Land cover/use statistics
Land is the basis for most biological and human activities on the earth. Agriculture, forestry, industries, transport, housing and other services all use land as a natural and/or an economic resource. Land is also an integral part of ecosystems and indispensable for biodiversity and carbon cycle.
Land can be divided into two interlinked concepts:
- Land cover refers to the bio-physical coverage of land (e.g. crops, grass, broad-leaved forest, or build-up area),
- Land use indicates the socio-economic use of land (e.g. agriculture, forestry, recreation or residential use).
Since 2006, EUROSTAT carries out a survey on the state and the dynamics of changes in land use and cover in the European Union called the LUCAS survey. The surveys are done every three years. The LUCAS surveys are carried out in-situ; this means that observations are made and registered on the ground all over the EU. The latest LUCAS survey (2012) covers all 27 EU countries and observations on more than 270 000 points.
From LUCAS survey 3 types of information are obtained:
- Micro data: land cover, land use and environmental parameters associated to the single surveyed points, including transect information;
- Point and landscape photos in the four cardinal directions;
- Statistical tables with aggregated results by land cover, land use at geographical level; these estimates are based on the point data conveniently weighted.
For LUCAS 2012 the micro data and photos are already available.
All the information obtained from the LUCAS surveys can be accessed here.
Examples of data use
Data and information on land cover/use status and changes is widely used for:
- nature protection,
- forest and water management,
- urban and transport planning,
- agricultural policy,
- natural hazards prevention and mitigation,
- soil protection and mapping,
- monitoring climate change,
- biodiversity, etc.
Land cover/use data also forms the basis for spatial and territorial analyses which are increasingly crucial for policy planning in many respects.