Land cover assessment and monitoring of its change are essential for the sustainable management of natural resources, environmental protection, food security, humanitarian programmes as well as modelling global environmental change. Multilateral environmental agreements are especially important user groups. However, there remain significant gaps in land cover data coverage and access is often limited.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has supported land cover mapping activities and capacity building to allow countries to undertake effective mapping programmes. Global collaboration has been created to develop a harmonized approach to make the required data accessible to local, national and international stakeholders in developing countries.
FAO has developed a number of tools and methodologies to facilitate mapping activities and ensure compatibility between local, national and regional products. The Land Cover Classification System (LCCS) allows comparison of land cover classes regardless of data source, sector or country. FAO also supports international activities as hosting the Secretariats of the Global Land Cover Network (GLCN) and the Global Terrestrial Observing System (GTOS).