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The Land Cover Classification System (LCCS) is the result of an initiative to take a first step towards an internationally agreed reference base for land cover. The objectives of the Africover Programme of the Environment and Natural Resources Service (SDRN), FAO, are to develop an approach for conceptualizing, defining and classifying land cover that coincides with the UNEP/FAO initiative on harmonization of land cover and land use classifications. The first full operational version of the classification system and software application has been developed for implementation by the first project to use this classification system, the Government of Italy Trust Fund project GCP/RAF/287/ITA Africover - East Africa Project in collaboration with the Environment and Natural Resources Service (SDRN) and the Soil Resources, Management and Conservation Service (AGLS) of FAO.

These land cover classification concepts were discussed and endorsed at the meeting of the international Working Group on Classification and Legend (Senegal, July 1996) supported by Government of France Trust Fund GCP/RAF/311/FRA (FAO, 1997).

The following are thanked for their contribution to the LCCS software application (see also Appendix E): Luca Morandini, who re-programmed the Legend and Classification Modules, upgraded and completed the LCCS Access97 version; Antonio Martucci, for programming the Field Data and Translator Modules; Wolfgang Prante, for programming the initial Classification and Legend Modules; Keya Choudhury, for compilation and editing of the Glossary; and Thorgeir Lawrence, for the technical editing of the text. In general, the support of John Latham, Dominique Lantieri and Denis Sims is appreciated.

For valuable feedback and review of the classification system, discussions with a wide range of experts from all over the world were appreciated. Those who attended the Africover Workshop on Classification and Legend, Sally Portudal, Senegal, July 1996, are thanked, as well as those who responded to earlier versions of the system, especially the U.S. Federal Geographic Data Committee - Vegetation Subcommittee and Earth Cover Working Group, Washington, October 1996 and Rome, January 1997 (with special thanks to Gyde Lund of the USDA Forest Service, Washington, D.C.); the LANES concerted action funded under the 4th Framework Programme of Research on Environment and Climate of the European Commission, which focused on the development of a harmonized framework for multipurpose land cover and land use information (with special thanks to Christophe Duhamel of CESD-Communautaire, Luxembourg, coordinating the LANES concerted action). Furthermore, Prof. Dr. Salomon B. Kroonenberg of the Geology Section, Subfaculty of Applied Earth Sciences, Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands, is thanked for provision of the information on lithology. Finally, UNEP is gratefully acknowledged for its financial contribution to this publication.

Antonio Di Gregorio and Louisa J.M. Jansen
July 2000

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