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Land Use and Land Cover Mapping

  • By: Martin Herold
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Land cover refers to the observed physical layer of Earth's surface. It includes vegetation and anthropogenic features as well as bare rock, bare soil, and inland water surfaces. Reliable land cover mapping is of crucial importance for (a) understanding and mitigating climate change and its impacts, (b) sustainable development, (c) natural resource management, (d) biodiversity conservation, and (e) understanding of ecosystems and biogeochemical cycling. For example, land cover characteristics reveal ongoing processes of deforestation, desertification, urbanization, land degradation, loss of biodiversity and ecosystem functions, and water and energy management. In situ and satellite-based land observation efforts as well as different disciplines (e.g., geography, ecology, geology, forestry, land policy, and planning) use and refer to land cover as one of the most obvious and detectable indicators ...

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