Geospatial information for sustainable food systems

Standards (ISO 19144 series)

Classification system structure 

Classification system structure (i.e., ISO 19144-1) is the first standard in ISO 19144 series and was developed jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations and Technical Committee. This is related to geographic classification systems, it defines the structure of such systems, together with the mechanism for defining and registering classifiers.

Land Cover Meta Language (LCML)

Land Cover Meta Language (LCML) is a tool that can be used to create and describe land cover classes in a standardized and consistent way. It is based on a set of basic objects and their properties and characteristics, which can be combined to represent a wide range of land cover features. 

LCML is particularly useful for creating land cover classifications that need to be interoperable across different applications and organizations. It is also useful for creating classifications that are flexible enough to accommodate new land cover features and concepts in the future.

National and regional land cover databases produced in FAO use the Land Cover Meta Language (LCML), an ISO standard (ISO 19144-2:2012) developed with the aim of providing a common reference structure for the comparison and integration of data for any generic land cover classification system, thus ensuring the ability to exchange land cover data.

LCML works by creating a set of standard diagnostic attributes (LCML basic object and their properties and characteristics) to describe/create different land cover features. A land cover class is defined by LCML object(s) as «biotic» or «abiotic», organized in horizontal or vertical patterns and other temporal relationships. LCML objects can be customized by adding additional attributes of land use and land cover characteristics (climate, landform, topography, etc.). A land cover class is defined by the object(s) it contains, and their spatial (horizontal and vertical) and temporal relationships. LCML is described in a UML diagram. All the rules and conditions of the meta-language are embedded in a user-friendly software (LCCS v.3 and LCHS) that allows the creation, edit and export of LCML-based legends.


The standardized description of the datasets included in the FAO Agro-Informatic Catalog is based on the ISO 19115:2003 metadata standard, approved by the international community in April 2003 as a tool to define metadata in the field of geographic information.

The ISO 19115:2003 Standard defines how geographic information and related services should be described, providing mandatory and conditional metadata sections, metadata entities and metadata elements. This standard applies to data series, independent datasets, individual geographic features and feature properties. Despite ISO 19115:2003 being designed for digital data, its principles can be extended to many other forms of geographic data such as maps, charts, and textual documents, as well as nongeographic data. The underlying format of an ISO19115:2003 compliant metadata is XML. GeoNetwork uses the ISO Technical Specification 19139 Geographic information - Metadata - XML schema implementation for the encoding of this XML.