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Geospatial information for sustainable food systems

Land cover assessment

Land cover is defined as the observed physical cover on the earth’s surface, including vegetation (natural or planted) and human constructions. Mapping land cover allows for assessment and monitoring of terrestrial ecosystems and changes within them, which are crucial to the sustainable management of natural resources, environmental protection, food security, and humanitarian programs.

Land cover information provides an essential input into geospatial analyses, one that includes observation of the physical environment. However, there is still a lack of land cover data with the parameters required for systematic assessment of ecosystem conditions at the global level.

FAO is involved in developing and enhancing all aspects of land cover and its applications. This includes: land cover ontology and classification systems, essential to consistency across systems and disciplines for sharing; development of methodologies for operational rapid assessment of land cover and its changes at national, regional and global scale; and helping member countries to meet their need for up-to-date, consistent and detailed land cover and land use information.