Land cover and land use, landscape (LUCAS) (lan)

Reference Metadata in Euro SDMX Metadata Structure (ESMS)

Compiling agency: Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union

Eurostat metadata
Reference metadata
1. Contact
2. Metadata update
3. Statistical presentation
4. Unit of measure
5. Reference Period
6. Institutional Mandate
7. Confidentiality
8. Release policy
9. Frequency of dissemination
10. Accessibility and clarity
11. Quality management
12. Relevance
13. Accuracy
14. Timeliness and punctuality
15. Coherence and comparability
16. Cost and Burden
17. Data revision
18. Statistical processing
19. Comment
Related Metadata
Annexes (including footnotes)

For any question on data and metadata, please contact: Eurostat user support


1. Contact Top
1.1. Contact organisation

Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union

1.2. Contact organisation unit

E4: Regional statistics and geographical information

1.5. Contact mail address

European Commission - Eurostat - L-2920 LUXEMBOURG

2. Metadata update Top
2.1. Metadata last certified 10/07/2017
2.2. Metadata last posted 18/03/2019
2.3. Metadata last update 07/05/2021

3. Statistical presentation Top
3.1. Data description

LUCAS is the acronym of Land Use and Cover Area frame Survey.

The aim of the LUCAS survey is to gather harmonised information on land use, land cover and environmental parameters. The survey also provides territorial information to analyse the interactions between agriculture, environment and countryside, such as irrigation and land management.

Since 2006, EUROSTAT has carried out LUCAS surveys every three years. 2006 data is considered pilot and has not been used to produce estimates. The most recent surveys happened in the spring-summer of 2009, 2012, 2015 and 2018.

Since the LUCAS surveys are carried out in-situ, this means that observations are made and registered on the ground by field surveyors. A mixed panel approach is used, so some points are visited in subsequent years.

In the field, the surveyor classifies the land cover and the visible land use according to the harmonized LUCAS Survey land cover and land use classifications. Landscape pictures are taken in the four cardinal directions. Till 2015 a transect of 250m was walked from the point to the east direction, where the surveyor records all transitions of land cover and existing linear features. The above-mentioned transect was not surveyed during the 2018 survey. A specific topsoil module was implemented in 2009, in 2012 (partly), in 2015 and in 2018. A pilot module on grassland was introduced in LUCAS 2018 which involved an additional collection of a percentage of the points for grassland, the type and its quality via a transect of 20 m in length and 2.5 m in width, giving a total surveyed area of 50 m². In addition, a contribution of points for validation of Copernicus Programme had also been part of the LUCAS 2018 survey.

From the LUCAS survey in situ data collection, different types of information are obtained:

- Micro data

- Images

- Statistical tables

1. Micro data

Land cover, land use and environmental parameters associated to the single surveyed points are available freely for download in the LUCAS dedicated section. Transect indicators on landscape features related to the single point (diversity and richness) are also part of the information available for free download for survey 2009. Specific ad hoc modules have been included in some surveys such as the 2009, 2015 and 2018 topsoil samples taken on 10% of total LUCAS points. Soil results for the EU countries are available via the JRC Land resource management unit under license agreement. In 2012 the soil module was implemented in Bulgaria and Romania. The soil samples of the 2018 collection are currently being analyzed in laboratories.

2. Images

Point and landscape photos taken in the four cardinal directions at each point are available freely by request either via e-mail contact to or by using the online order form.

3. Statistical tables

Statistical tables with aggregated results by land cover, land use at geographical level are available in Eurobase under the domain land cover, land use and landscape (LUCAS). The statistics are presented at NUTS0, NUTS1 and NUTS2 levels using the classification for NUTS 2013. For 2018 statistical tables at NUTS1 and NUTS2 are aligned by using the classification for NUTS 2016. These estimates are based on the point data conveniently weighted. For further information on weighting refer to chapter 20.5 Data compilation and Quality Reports.

3.2. Classification system

The LUCAS classification is characterised by:

  • · clear separation of land cover and land use
  • · full hierarchy
  • · comparability with other existing land cover/use systems

 1. Separation for land cover and land use

While reading the results and comparing them with other sources it is important to have in mind that the LUCAS survey clearly distinguishes between land cover and land use.

Most of the existing information on land cover and land use is based on mixed classification of land cover and land use (as the CORINE Land Cover classification).

When data from the two different dimensions needs to be matched, compared and/or combined this distinction is particularly worthwhile.

For example, land cover 'grassland' relates to the actual coverage of the soil (basically spontaneous vegetation) while its use can vary from private gardens to public parks to agriculture and others. Grassland with agricultural use is an important component of the Utilized Agricultural Area and can be derived combining land cover and use.

2. Full hierarchy

LUCAS classifications is hierarchical, having the ability to accommodate different levels of information, starting with structured broad-level classes, which allow further systematic subdivision into more detailed sub-classes. At each level the defined classes are mutually exclusive.

3. Comparability with other sources

Compatibility of the adopted definitions with the main international concepts and definitions is guaranteed. Additional parameters have been introduced where needed to allow the match, while keeping a independency and flexibility in the main item classification.

3.1 FAO classification concerning

To improve comparability with other land cover sources a new variable has been calculated to align LUCAS and FAO classification for forest classes. A set of mapping rules between the two classifications systems have been defined based on the semantic analysis of the classes, the changes occurred in the LUCAS forestry-related classes definition in the periods 2009-2012 and 2012-2015, and the data collection process during 2009-2018 field campaigns.

The rules for mapping LUCAS to FAO definition for forestry-related classes has been based on the semantic analysis of the classes reported in the documents FRA 2015 - Forest Resources Assessment Working Paper 180 and in the LUCAS 2018 - Technical reference document C1:Instructions for Surveyors published by FAO and Eurostat, respectively. The key elements and definitions for the forest classes used in LUCAS 2015 and in FAO (FRA 2015) are reported in Tables below

Table 1: Terms, definitions and remarks for the "woodland" class in LUCAS 2015 (Source Eurostat, 2015)





Woodland (C00)



Areas covered by trees with a canopy of at least 10%. Also woody hedges and palm trees are included in this class.



Height of trees at maturity and width of woody features have to be assessed.

The 10% of canopy cover has to be assessed in the extended window of observation (Area 0.13 ha ).

If the wooded area is larger than 0.5 ha, the height of trees is above 5 m at maturity and the width of the wooded feature is more than 20 m, the surveyor has to indicate the forest cover code in the respective "LC plant species" field, according to the forest type classification of the European Environment Agency.

Trees that are known as forest trees can also be grown as an orchard


Table 2: Terms and definitions of the FAO forestry-related classed (Source: FAO, 2012)




Land spanning more than 0.5 hectares with trees higher than 5 meters and a canopy.

Cover of more than 10 percent, or trees able to reach these thresholds in situ. It does not include land that is predominantly under agricultural or urban land use.

Other wooded


Land not defined as “Forest”, spanning more than 0.5 hectares; with trees higher than 5 meters and a canopy cover of 5-10 percent, or trees able to reach these thresholds; or

with a combined cover of shrubs, bushes and trees above 10 percent. It does not include land that is predominantly under agricultural or urban land use.

Other land

All land that is not classified as forest or other wooded land.

Other land

with tree cover (sub-category)

Land considered as “other land”, that is predominantly agricultural or urban lands use and has patches of tree cover that span more than 0.5 hectares with a canopy cover of more than 10 percent of trees able to reach a height of 5 meters at maturity. It includes both forest and non-forest tree species.

Further information on the mapping can be found in Chapter 3.4 of Quality Report 2015.

The European legislation adopted the FAO forest classification: Reg (EC) No 2152/2003 of 17/11/2003 concerning monitoring of forests and environmental interactions in the Community - Forest Focus.


Forest types have been introduced in the LUCAS Survey classification for forestry areas, in line with the EUNIS classification on forests , thus providing more information on forest biotopes.

The LUCAS Classification consists of several sub classifications

  • · LUCAS SU LC (LUCAS Survey Land Cover)
  • · LUCAS SU LU (LUCAS Survey Land Use)
  • · LUCAS SU FT (LUCAS Survey Forest Types)
  • · LUCAS SU LF (LUCAS Survey Linear Features)
  • · LUCAS SU WF (LUCAS Survey Water Features)
  • · LUCAS ST LC (LUCAS Statistics Land Cover)
  • · LUCAS ST LU (LUCAS Statistics Land Use)

LUCAS 2009 Classification


The LUCAS survey land cover classification 2009 contains 8 main land cover categories:

  • · (A00) artificial land
  • · (B00) cropland
  • · (C00) woodland
  • · (D00) shrubland
  • · (E00) grassland
  • · (F00) bare land
  • · (G00) water
  • · (H00) wetland

In total there are 77 classes for LUCAS Survey land cover classification 2009


LUCAS Survey land use classification 2009 contains 15 main classes and 34 classes in total.

For detailed information see the LUCAS 2009 - Classification document.

LUCAS 2012 Classification


The LUCAS survey land cover classification 2012 contains 8 main land cover categories:

  • · (A00) artificial land
  • · (B00) cropland
  • · (C00) woodland
  • · (D00) shrubland
  • · (E00) grassland
  • · (F00) bare land / lychens and moss
  • · (G00) water areas
  • · (H00) wetland

In total there are 83 classes for LUCAS Survey land cover classification 2012.


LUCAS Survey land use classification 2012 contains 14 main classes and 33 classes in total.

For detailed information see the LUCAS 2012 - Classification document.

Changes from 2009 classification

In 2012...

  • · The following B43 fresh vegetables in "roots-bulbs-tubers" were moved to B23 (other root crops)
    • carrots (Daucus carota)
    • garlic (Allium sativum)
    • onions (Allium cepa)
    • radishes (Raphanus sativus)
    • red beet (Beta vulgaris, var. conditiva)
    • shallots (Allium ascalonicum)
    • turnips (Brassica rapa var. rapifera)
  • · Description of B77j changed from "abandoned citrus orchards" to "citrus orchards"
  • · Energy crops (e.g. Miscanthus) are assigned to B84 (permanent industrial crops)
  • · EUNIS Forest types are assigned under the condition that the woodland exceeds 0.5ha in size and 20m in width
  • · Forest codes for inclusion of forest types (Y) now have 4 digits CXXY instead of 3 (CXY)
  • · New land cover classes were included under land cover C00 (woodland)
    • C21 (spruce dominated coniferous woodland)
    • C22 (pine dominated coniferous woodland)
    • C23 (other coniferous woodland)
    • C31 (spruce dominated mixed woodland)
    • C32 (pine dominated mixed woodland)
    • C33 (other mixed woodland)
  • · More restrictive definition of Bareland (from a coverage of 50% to 90%)
  • · New land cover classes were included under land cover F00 (bare soil and lychens)
    • F10 (rocks)
    • F20 (sand)
    • F30 (lichens)
    • F40 (other bare soil)
  • · Mire and swamp forests are excluded from land cover H12 (peatbogs): if the tree canopy covers more than 10%, the point is assigned to CXX (woodland)
  • · Description of U112 changed from "Fallow and abandoned land" to "Fallow land"
  • · Description of U130 changed from "Fishing" to "Aquaculture and fishing" (aquaculture was already included in this class in 2009)
  • · Classes were suppressed under land use
    • U150 (hunting) is collected as a special remark in the field form
    • U364 (nature reserve) is collected as a special status in the field form
  • · New land use classes were included under land use U400 (unused and abandoned areas)
    • U410 (abandoned areas)
    • U420 (semi-natural and natural areas not in use)

LUCAS 2015 Classification

Changes from 2012 classification

The LUCAS 2015 Survey classification is not fundamentally different from the 2012 survey classification.

Main changes for land cover are the following:

  • · New class A30 Other built-up: includes all constructions not covered in the other AXX classes
  • · Class B77j was dropped as it referred to "Abandoned citrus orchards" (when abandoned is to be classified as a use)
  • · Clarified that turnips (as a root crop) are to be classified as B23e and not B23n. Also that B23 refers to species of turnips planted as root crops as opposed to rape and turnip rape (Brassica rapa var. oleifera) which are planted for their seed.
  • · Clarified that chervil (Anthriscus cerefolium) mentioned in B37d is the aromatic plant also known as "garden chervil". A previous mention to chervil in B43b was removed, as it referred to the root crop B23l – tuberous chervil.
  • · Clarified that B43f corresponds to cultivated mushrooms (including all cultivated truffle) whereas B43g refers to the collection of wild products (truffles in the wild included).
  • · B83 Nurseries now includes also forest nurseries. Sub-classification (B83a..f) was created for specialized nursery types.
  • · Cropland, and namely energy crops (B84) are no longer linked to U210 Energy production
  • · Harmonization of the woodland definition: in 2012 CXX included forest nurseries (now to be classified under B83) and young plantations, even if they do not reach a canopy of 10%. In order to have a coherent definition, areas below 10% of trees are to be classified according to the existing land cover.
  • · Disaggregation of G10-Inland water bodies into classes G11-Inland fresh water bodies and G12-Inland salty water bodies in order to better map to INSPIRE PLCC classes (namely PLCC 017 – Salty waters, which includes inland salty lakes)
  • · Disaggregation of G20-Inland running water into classes G21-Inland fresh running water and G22-Inland salty running water in order to better map to INSPIRE PLCC classes (namely PLCC 017 – Salty waters)
  • · Renaming of G30-Coastal waters to G30-Transitional waters, since in LUCAS coastal waters (also known as “open sea”) are not relevant. In fact, the definition for G30 in 2012 was already compatible with the definition for transitional waters under the Water Framework Directive (Directive 2000/60/EC).

Main changes for land use are the following:

  • · All NACE categories have been covered
  • · U111 Agriculture no longer includes NACE 81.3 Landscape care and maintenance (which is now included in U342)
  • · U120 Forestry now explicitly includes extraction of cork (cork oak trees)
  • · U130 Fishing refers only to commercial fishing
  • · New class U150 Other primary production
  • · For all industrial activities (U22X) it has been specified in which main INSPIRE category it has to be included: raw industry, heavy end product industry or light end product industry (Land use type)
  • · U226 Machinery and equipment now includes also wooden furniture (formerly U227) and excludes reproduction of recorded media (now U228)
  • · U227 no longer includes printing and reproduction (now U228), nor manufacture of furniture (U226)
  • · New class U228 Printing and reproduction (includes NACE 18 and NACE 58)
  • · Docks are part of the specific transport sector they belong to, as other related infrastructure (they were an exception before and were excluded from the specific transport sector)
  • · New class U319 Electricity, gas and thermal power distribution (includes parts previously included in U210 Energy production, as far as the network is concerned)
  • · Split class U340 into U341 Commerce and U342 Financial, professional and information services
  • · Included class U363 Holiday camps into U341 Commerce

LUCAS 2018 Classification

Changes from 2015 classification

The LUCAS 2018 Survey classification does not differ from the 2012 survey classification.

Main changes for landuse compared to 2015 classification involve LU4 and precisely:

- U410 Abandoned areas has been further subdivided:

 U411 Abandoned industrial areas

 U412 Abandoned commercial areas

 U413 Abandoned transport areas

 U414 Abandoned residential areas

 U415 Other abandoned areas



Settlement area

Settlement area is defined as:

  • · land cover:
    - A10 Roofed built-up areas including buildings and greenhouses;
    - A20 Artificial non built-up areas including sealed area features, such as yards, farmyards, cemeteries, car parking areas etc. and linear features, such as streets, roads, railways, runways;
    - A30 Other artificial areas including bridges and viaducts, mobile homes, solar panels, power plants, electrical substations, pipelines, water sewage plants, open dump sites;
  • · land use:

- U210 Energy production  including areas used for production of electricity (including renewable energy),  manufacturing of gas by purification, production of steam;

- U220 Industry and manufacturing including areas used for manufacturing of food, manufacturing  of beverages and tobacco products, manufacturing of textile products, processing of coal, processing of oil and metal, production of non-metal mineral goods, industrial and manufacturing of chemical and related products, production of machinery and equipment, production of wood-based products and articles of cork and straw, printing of products such as newspapers and books,  reproduction of recorded media such as compact discs, videos, software on discs or tapes, records etc.;

- U310 Transport, communication networks, storage, protection works (except  U313 Water transport) including areas used for all types of railways, TGV traces, railway stations, streets, roads, highways, car parking, bus stations, tramways and tram stations, funiculars, airports, transport via pipelines, postal services and telecommunication infrastructures, logistics and storage of goods and warehousing, protection infrastructures against landslides or avalanches, dikes, electricity distribution, gas and thermal power distribution;

- U320 Water and waste management including areas used for water collection, water treatment and supply, sewerage, waste treatment;

- U330 Construction including areas used for construction of buildings and civil engineering works, specialised construction activities (e.g. demolition);

- U340 Commerce, financial, professional and information services including areas used for repair and installation of machinery and equipment, wholesale and retail trade,  real estate activities, hotels and similar accommodation, food and beverage service activities, holiday and other short-stay accommodation (holiday apartment lots), camping grounds, recreational vehicle parks and trailer parks (also closed holiday camps), financial and insurance activities, professional activities, scientific and technical activities, administrative and support service activities;

- U350 Community services including areas used for public administration, local authorities, defense, education, health and social work, religion, as well as other services if provided through community services;

- U362 Sport including areas used for sport activities;

- U370 Residential including areas used for housing purpose.

For detailed information see the  LUCAS 2018 classification document.

3.3. Coverage - sector

Not applicable.

3.4. Statistical concepts and definitions

The main statistical variables collected in the LUCAS survey are: Land Cover, Land Use and Landscape indicators.

On the sampling units (points) two different modalities for land cover (LC1 - the primary information and LC2 - the secondary one) and land use (LU1 and LU2) can be collected. Data for the period 2009/2012/2015are produced taking into account first and secondary land cover/use.; in estimates of 2018 only first land cover is taken into account.

Figures relate to total official area of the country, which includes land area and land under inland water. Even if in LUCAS, the concept of land is extended to inland water areas (lakes, rivers, coastal areas such as estuaries, lagoons), it does not embrace uses below the earth’s surface (mine deposits, subways, mushroom beds, ground levels of buildings).

The Land Cover is the physical cover of the earth's surface and the Land Use is the socio-economic function of the land.

The two concepts (land cover and land use) are clearly distinguished in the LUCAS survey classifications. This distinction is particularly worthwhile and allows the analysis of the interactions between the two (cover and use). For example, land cover 'grassland' relates to the actual coverage of the soil while its use can vary from private gardens, to public parks, to agriculture and others. Grassland with agricultural use is an important component of the Utilized Agricultural Area and can be derived combining the two attribute (land cover and use) referring to the same point.

As far as the land use is concerned, it is worthwhile to specify that the figures refer specifically to the use of the land for which any sign is visible in the ground. Therefore, data reported in any table referring to the use has to be interpreted as the 'visible use'. As an example if a piece of land is regularly used for leisure purposes but no signs are visible on the spot, such a use will not be recorded by the surveyor and will not appear in the figures unless auxiliary data have been used for supporting data collection.

Landscape indicators (years 2009/2012) are computed on the basis of the information collected along the 250m transect (transition of land cover and presence of linear elements).

Published Landscape indicators consist of the following:

  • · Richness
  • · Shannon Diversity
  • · Shannon Evenness

Please refer to "Codes Transect point indicators " LUCAS 2009 M1 - Landscape indicators  for  details.

3.5. Statistical unit

The statistical unit in a LUCAS survey is a portion of land of circular shape and a conventional dimension of 1.5 meter radius (extended to 20 meters radius in specific cases).

For more detailed information please refer to the following documents:

LUCAS 2009 - Instructions

LUCAS 2012 - Instructions

LUCAS 2015 - Instructions

LUCAS 2018 - Instructions

3.6. Statistical population

The "reference population" is the area of EU territory included in the survey.

3.7. Reference area

The reference area is the total area of the EU countries included in the survey. LUCAS point data include transitional water (G30:estuaries and lagoons), which are excluded from the estimates (statistical tables) as LUCAS reference area is NUTS surface which by definition does not cover transitional waters.

Nevertheless, some areas are excluded from field survey (but still included into the final estimates), due to the difficulties to reach points located in very remote areas.

Exclusion criteria took into account the following elements:

  • · Altitude;
  • · Distance to roads;
  • · Accessibility indicator calculated using CORINE Land Cover (CLC);
  • · Rule for eligibility.

Further information is available in Quality Report 2015 Chapter 2.1.2.

Reference area in 2015 and 2018

In the LUCAS 2015 and 2018 survey design, the area excluded from field visit are included in a complementary Photo sample to be interpreted, aiming at coverage of full EU territory. LUCAS 2015 and 2018 Survey cover all EU countries.

The territories/islands listed below were not included in the field survey; they are excluded from the reference population and hence the area is not considered in the estimation process. The area of these territories sums up to less than 2.5 % of the total area of EU:

  • · ES63 (Ciudad Autonoma de Ceuta);
  • · ES64 (Ciudad Autonoma de Melilla) (ES63 + ES 64 = 0.03% of ES6 (SUR));
  • · ES70 (Canarias) 
  • · FR9 (Departements D’outre-Mer) ;
  • · PT20 (Região Autónoma dos Açores);
  • · PT30 (Região Autónoma da Madeira).

Reference area in 2012

LUCAS 2012 Survey took place in the following 27 countries:

  • · Austria
  • · Belgium
  • · Bulgaria
  • · Czech Republic
  • · Cyprus
  • · Denmark
  • · Estonia
  • · Finland
  • · France
  • · Germany
  • · Greece
  • · Hungary
  • · Ireland
  • · Italy
  • · Latvia
  • · Lithuania
  • · Luxembourg
  • · Malta
  • · Netherlands
  • · Poland
  • · Portugal
  • · Romania
  • · Slovakia
  • · Slovenia
  • · Spain
  • · Sweden
  • · United Kingdom

The following territories/islands were not included:

ES63 (Ciudad Autonoma de Ceuta)

0.03% of ES6 (SUR)

ES64 (Ciudad Autonoma de Melilla)

ES70 (Canarias)




PT20 (Região Autónoma dos Açores)


PT30 (Região Autónoma da Madeira)


 Points to be visited in the field are selected among those:

  • · belonging to mainland (small islands not connected to mainland by bridges may be excluded)
  • · located in areas with elevation below 1500 meters

In 2012 proximity to road network was also taken in account in the selection/exclusion of points above 1500 meters.

Reference area in 2009

LUCAS 2009 Survey took place in the following 23 countries, covering 91% of total EU area:

  • · Austria
  • · Belgium
  • · Czech Republic
  • · Denmark
  • · Estonia
  • · Finland
  • · France
  • · Germany
  • · Greece
  • · Hungary
  • · Ireland
  • · Italy
  • · Latvia
  • · Lithuania
  • · Luxembourg
  • · Netherlands
  • · Poland
  • · Portugal
  • · Slovakia
  • · Slovenia
  • · Spain
  • · Sweden
  • · United Kingdom

The following territories/islands were not included:

EL22 (Ionia Nisia)


EL41 (Voreio Aigaio)


EL42 (Notio Aigaio)

ES53 (Illes Baleares)

8% of ES5 (ESTE)

ES63 (Ciudad Autonoma de Ceuta)

0.03% of ES6 (SUR)

ES64 (Ciudad Autonoma de Melilla)

ES70 (Canarias)




PT20 (Região Autónoma dos Açores)


PT30 (Região Autónoma da Madeira)


FI20 (Åland)

 100% of FI2 (Åland)

 As a consequence:

  • · in the 23 Countries covered by the 2009 round, 6 out of 248 NUTS2 regions were not surveyed and no estimates are available for them;
  • · types of land cover that mainly appear at a high altitude or in inlands could be underestimated (lakes, permanent snow);

data are not fully comparable between 2 surveys.

3.8. Coverage - Time

LUCAS data is available for 2009, 2012, 2015 and 2018.

2006 data is considered pilot and estimates were not computed.

3.9. Base period

Not applicable for this kind of data.

4. Unit of measure Top

Land cover and land use are expressed in square kilometers (Km2) and percentage (%).

For topsoil, the 2009, 2015 and 2018 data samples have been analysed for:

  • · the percentage of coarse fragments
  • · particle size distribution (% clay, silt and sand content)
  • · pH (in CaCl2 and H2O)
  • · organic carbon (g/kg)
  • · carbonate content (g/kg)
  • · phosphorous content (mg/kg)
  • · total nitrogen content (g/kg)
  • · extractable potassium content (mg/kg)
  • · cation exchange capacity (cmol(+)/kg) (not 2018)
  • · electrical conductivity (dS/m) (not 2009)
  • · samples collected in 2009 and 2015 have multispectral properties available

Soil data are disseminated by JRC.

5. Reference Period Top

Statistical data in eurobase refers to

  • · 2009 for 23 EU Member States
  • · 2012, 2015 and 2018  for all EU Member States

6. Institutional Mandate Top
6.1. Institutional Mandate - legal acts and other agreements

The LUCAS survey is part of the Community Statistical Programme 2008-2012 and 2013-2017.


6.2. Institutional Mandate - data sharing

The LUCAS Survey is a Eurostat data collection co-financed by DG Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI), DG Climate Action (DG CLIMA), DG Environment (DG ENV) and DG Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs (DG GROW).

7. Confidentiality Top
7.1. Confidentiality - policy

Regulation (EC) No 223/2009 on European statistics (recital 24 and Article 20(4)) of 11 March 2009 (OJ L 87, p. 164), stipulates the need to establish common principles and guidelines ensuring the confidentiality of data used for the production of European statistics and the access to those confidential data with due account for technical developments and the requirements of users in a democratic society.

7.2. Confidentiality - data treatment

LUCAS data are not confidential.

8. Release policy Top
8.1. Release calendar

LUCAS statistical tables are updated after every survey. The present update cycle is of 3 years.

8.2. Release calendar access

When a new table is uploaded access is available in the LUCAS dedicated section.

8.3. Release policy - user access

In line with the Community legal framework and the European Statistics Code of Practice Eurostat disseminates European statistics on Eurostat's website (see item 10 - 'Accessibility and clarity') respecting professional independence and in an objective, professional and transparent manner in which all users are treated equitably.

The detailed arrangements are governed by the Eurostat protocol on impartial access to Eurostat data for users.

9. Frequency of dissemination Top

LUCAS aggregated tables are available every 3 years  at time t+18 months.  Microdata are downloadable at time t+7months.

LUCAS preliminary tables for 2012 were made available at time t+9 months.

LUCAS 2015 field survey, primary data were put online in July 2016.

The last LUCAS field survey took place in 2018, primary data were put online in April 2019.

10. Accessibility and clarity Top
10.1. Dissemination format - News release

News releases are published on-line.

10.2. Dissemination format - Publications

Articles in Statistics Explained, and chapters in the Eurostat yearbook and the Eurostat regional yearbook are available online.

10.3. Dissemination format - online database

LUCAS statistical tables are available on Eurobase, under the land cover, land use and landscape LUCAS (lan) heading.

10.4. Dissemination format - microdata access

The LUCAS primary data includes alpha-numerical variables and photographs linked to the geo-referenced points.

The LUCAS data is available in the LUCAS dedicated section, free of charge to all users.

The LUCAS photos can be obtained by contacting Eurostat ( or by using the online order form.

10.5. Dissemination format - other

LUCAS topsoil data 2009, 2015 and 2018

The datasets for the LUCAS 2009 and 2012 Topsoil Module include data from 19,969 and 2034 samples respectively, from 25 Member States can be downloaded from

The datasets for the LUCAS 2015 Topsoil Module include data from 21,859 samples from 28 Member States, together with reference data describing a range of environmental conditions for the LUCAS Soil locations can be downloaded from:

Data were also collected during 2015 in Switzerland, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia collected during 2015 using the same methodology.

The datasets for the LUCAS 2018 Topsoil Module include data from 18,279 samples from 28 Member States will be available from during Q2 2021

Data can be downloaded after prior registration.

10.6. Documentation on methodology

The required applicable documentation for LUCAS survey, aggregated data and landscape indicators is provided in the LUCAS dedicated section (under Methodology).

For the topsoil data, the paper LUCAS Soil, the largest expandable soil dataset for Europe: a review by Orgiazzi et al provides a detailed insight into the design and methodology of the data collection and laboratory analysis

The LUCAS pages on ESDAC contain a wealth of supporting material and reports.

10.7. Quality management - documentation

For relevant quality documentation please refer to the following document:

LUCAS 2009 - Quality Checks 

LUCAS 2012 - Quality Checks

LUCAS 2015 - Quality Checks

LUCAS 2018 – Quality Checks

11. Quality management Top
11.1. Quality assurance

For further information, please refer to document LUCAS 2009 M2 - Quality Assurance.

11.2. Quality management - assessment

In the framework of Eurostat Quality Assurance Framework, LUCAS survey underwent an External Peer review. Result from the final assessment can be found in Annex 1.

12. Relevance Top
12.1. Relevance - User Needs

LUCAS data is used by four main types of users:

  1. Eurostat internal use (12% of the contacts)
  2. Other DGs and European Institutions: mainly the JRC, EEA, RTD, AGRI, ENV, CLIMA, and GROW either directly by the DGs or through external contracts (62 %)
  3. For national purposes by national authorities (10 %)
  4. Research purposes by universities and research institutions (16 %)

The LUCAS survey was initially conceived with the aim of providing early estimates for crop production but after some pilot tests, it became evident that the tool was not adequate for that purpose due to the time span until results were available. However, the results of LUCAS proved valuable for other uses and the scope and purpose were modified and also broadened.

The needs of the Commission services related to LUCAS were assessed, confirmed and integrated at the strategic level by the LUCAS Advisory Group. They span from reporting obligations linked to the Common Agricultural Policy and to Rural development Policy, to implementation of the Kyoto Protocol, from the monitoring EU biodiversity policy to Soil Thematic Strategy and to the context of the implementation of Copernicus (formerly GMES) covering earth observation by means of satellites, ground based, sea-borne and airborne facilities in order to provide environmental information.

LUCAS data are used for Agro Environmental Indicators (AEI), LULUCF (land use, land use change and forestry) indicators, Europe Resource Efficiency indicators and are planned to be used in assessing the Good Agricultural and Environmental Condition (GAEC). Moreover in the context of CORINE Land Cover (CLC) and all other pan-EU mapping initiatives, such as the Copernicus HRL (High Resolution Layers) LUCAS is used for production, verification and validation processes.

An important issue in the user requirements is the timing of surveys. Commission services declared their need for the core part of the LUCAS survey to be carried out at three-year intervals, in synchronisation with CORINE Land Cover and the update of the HRL (High Resolution Layers).

12.2. Relevance - User Satisfaction

No feedback analysis.

12.3. Completeness

Not Applicable.

13. Accuracy Top
13.1. Accuracy - overall

The accuracy is tackled at Eurostat level, by eliminating as much as possible non-sampling errors and  by calculating sampling errors.  

The missing data phenomena is almost negligible in the survey. In case surveyors could not reach the points they were obliged to fill in the field form on the basis of the information that he/she could coll.

The majority of points were surveyed at a distance lower than 100 m (85%), while a small percentage (9%) was photo-interpreted (PI) in the field due to accessibility problems.ect from orthophoto interpretation.

13.2. Sampling error

Sampling error of the estimates (cv%) is disseminated in the Statistical Tables for each domain of estimation.

13.3. Non-sampling error

For further information, please refer to document Quality Reports in the methodology page.

14. Timeliness and punctuality Top
14.1. Timeliness

Data collection takes place between spring and autumn on the year of the survey (t), and the statistics are published according to the schedule of t+18months. 

14.2. Punctuality


15. Coherence and comparability Top
15.1. Comparability - geographical

Fully harmonised and comparable, since the surveyors use the same methodology in all countries.

15.2. Comparability - over time

Different aspects of comparability have to be  assessed through:

- Comparison of the main features of 2009, 2012, 2015 and 2018 surveys by focusing on the following elements: sample design, sample size, countries involved, sampling unit and data collection method;

- Comparison of the information collected with the previous surveys (comparison of the variables reported in the field forms);

- Comparison of the definition of the variables collected with the previous surveys (information reported in the metadata and/or in the Technical Reference Documents).

 In general, the LC/LU classification is comparable with others LC/LU systems (e. FAO, CLC), hence compatibility of the adopted definitions with the main international concepts and definitions is guaranteed. Additional parameters have been introduced where needed to allow the match, while keeping an independency and flexibility in the main item classification. This is the reason why the heading "Total woodland" in LUCAS Statistical classification includes: 'Forest' and 'other wooded area' as defined according to FAO standards and other areas covered by trees not respecting FAO definition.


Table 1 : Main features of the LUCAS survey 2009, 2012 and 2015





Reference population

All EU Member States except BG CY MT and RO

All EU Member States

All EU Member States

Sampling unit




Sampling scheme

Two-phase design with stratification

Two-phase design with stratification

Two-phase design with stratification

First Phase Sample - Master Grid (size)




Second phase sample Field Sample (size) (No. of points surveyed)



273,153 + 66.604 (PI )

Number of Countries involved




Main information collected

Land Cover/Land Use details (i.e. height of trees, width of feature, plant species and degree of coverage (percentage); soil data; water management information and transect data. Soil

Land use data; land cover details (i.e. height of trees, width of feature, plant species and degree of coverage (percentage); soil data; water management information and transect data.

Land use data; land cover details (i.e. height of trees, width of feature, plant species and degree of coverage (percentage); soil data; water management information and transect data. soil

Information collected walking a transect









H-T for two phase stratified design with post stratification

H-T for two phase stratified design with post stratification

H-T for two phase stratified design with post stratification


[1]The estimation method used in 2015 is applied to the back series 2009 and 2012.

The LUCAS Survey is designed in order to achieve harmonization and comparability among campaigns; however for the time being , with the current sample size, comparability over time for estimates related to areas < 500 Km2 should be treated with care, especially within strata with a limited coverage.

In the last two campaigns, one of the main obstacle for comparing the collected data, were the changes done in 2012 classifications of “land cover” and the solution was to recode the 2009 survey data. In some cases it was sufficient to replace the original 2009 code by the new one in 2012 in a deterministic way. When land use is equal to “hunting”, “nature reserve” and “unused and abandoned areas” and in the same time the land cover is changed, the deterministic mode cannot be applied because the uncertainty of the correction and, hence, a specific procedure  was implemented. The new land use is derived from a probabilistic imputation that is a random selection of the code among the three most frequent land use codes, given the related land cover; the probabilities are derived by considering the cross distribution of land cover and the land use for those point in common to 2009 and to 2012 (and the points are restricted only to those that, in 2009, had the land use that will be changed).

A summary of the procedures implemented to optimise the comparability between 2009 and 2012 survey is reported in the annexed document. The procedures impact the statistical tables disseminated and not the primary data published in the LUCAS dedicated section.

In the current revision, same methodologies for data treatment are applied to the 3 years of surveys.


2. New methodological sample design for 2018 survey

 Break in Series in 2018 estimates

The methodological revision of the 2018 sample design has resulted in relevant adjustments to the final estimates of statistical tables, and consequently, produced implications on the comparability of 2018 values with previous rounds. In particular, the limited comparability of the statistical estimates concerns small countries/regions and land cover classes, such as artificial, bare land, water, and wetland.

The LUCAS 2018 sample design introduced several new elements compared to the previous campaigns:


  • The 2018 sample design had commenced with the update of the first phase LUCAS Master Sample (2 by 2 Km grid) by adding new elements, (most recent available data from CLC, HRLs, NUTS 2 totals, elevation classes) to be included in the estimation of the target variables.
  • In addition, through photo interpretation, a more detailed classification variable (STR18) replaced the limited STR05 variable producing a higher number of strata.
  • The build of 2018 stratification design had been the outcome of possible combinations of NUTS 2, STR18, CLC modalities and elevation classes via an iterative algorithm that optimized the stratification given the coefficients of variations of the target variables.
  • The sample design process had also been restructured in terms of the eligibility criteria. Until 2015 survey, the eligibility criterion had been introduced to divide points as eligible or non-eligible, depending on whether a point was considered unattainable or too costly to be reached. It had thus divided the Master in two parts before the sample selection. However, the eligibility criterion has been removed in 2018 and all points were deemed as eligible to be selected in the survey sample.
  • Detailed description of LUCAS 2018 sample design can be found here:

The consequences of the above modifications were a minor number of common points in the 2018 sample with the previous surveys, than those selected in 2009-2015.

In addition, a larger number of Photo-interpreted (PI) points had been assigned in 2018 survey compared to previous rounds. Considering that Photointerpretation is different from in-situ observation, there might be a PI “effect” too; the quality report for LUCAS 2018 will provide more details on the subject.

Optimising comparability LUCAS 2009-2012
15.3. Coherence - cross domain

Coherence of statistics is their adequacy to be reliably combined in different ways and for various uses. Various sources of data currently provide information on land uses and agro-environmental topics. They include area sample surveys conducted by member States, NATURA 2000 maps and Corine Land Cover (CLC) among others. These sources are often not completely coherent with LUCAS data.

 While reading the results and comparing them with other sources it is important to have in mind that the LUCAS survey clearly distinguishes between land cover and land use.

Despite the effort of harmonization of the definitions some differences (sometimes not negligible) can be observed when comparing different sources. These differences can be due to the following reasons:

  • · Different methodologies
  • · Certain margin of subjectivity in the application of the definitions
  • · The (im)possibility to clearly distinguish between coverage and use in the figures available from other domains
  • · Variability of the estimates due to the sampling methodology

1. Areas of crops and grassland

All the above explanations apply to the comparison between cropland in LUCAS and the figures on crops coming from other sources within Eurostat (for example the Farm Structure Survey or the  Crop Statistics). Since the LUCAS survey collects indeed land cover and land use independently,  areas covered by 'grassland' not belonging to farms and not used for agriculture are nonetheless classified as grassland. Note that the 'grassland' might be used as private gardens or public parks, but also for agriculture, sport and other uses. Grassland with agricultural use is an important component of the Utilized Agricultural Area and can be derived from the LUCAS classification by combining land cover and use attributes.

2. FAO forest definitions and LUCAS wooded areas:

In LUCAS, Woodland has been defined in a way that allows providing estimates compatible with the FAO results. In particular the comparability with FAO forest classification has been strengthened with the inclusion of variables area size, height of trees, width of features and percentage of land cover.

However, differences between the semantic definition of LUCAS wooded areas and FAO forest definitions have to be taken into account: if an area has > 10% of trees (excluding fruit trees in permanent crops) in LUCAS is labeled as "wooded area", FAO take this into account only if it is > than 0.5 Ha. Then, woodland in LUCAS includes: 'Forest' and 'Other wooded land' as defined according to FAO standards and other areas covered by trees not respecting FAO definition.

In addition, a further concern arises from the changes occurred in survey protocol for the 2009, 2012 and 2015 LUCAS campaigns. In fact, variations in the definitions may cause inconsistencies when datasets are compared over time. Therefore, an evaluation of the impacts of these changes on the reported figures at different administrative levels is either beneficial for producer or user of the data.

Further information can be found in Quality Report 2015.

15.4. Coherence - internal

The coherence between the total area of the countries and their split according to land cover and land use is guaranteed by definition.

A standardized methodology and classification has been applied in all the countries and from one round to another since the 2006 pilot survey.

Therefore the internal coherence is perfectly assured.

16. Cost and Burden Top

LUCAS has no burden on respondents, since sampling units are visited by a surveyor without need for interaction with the land owner (other than request of permission to access private property if such is the case).

17. Data revision Top
17.1. Data revision - policy

No revisions foreseen.

17.2. Data revision - practice

Till 2015

After each survey, past data are revised and re-aligned to the latest methodology. The latest NUTS region classification is applied. For instance the 2009-2012 data are revised in order to have better comparability over time as coverage and definition changed between the 2 last surveys and results are aligned to 2015 survey. Areas excluded for accessibility reasons, from field survey in 2009 and 2012 are estimated with complementary photo interpreted sample in 2015. Estimates are provided according to NUTS 2013.

Since 2018

The last estimates provided for 2018 are provided according to NUTS 2016 and past series are not re-alligned.

18. Statistical processing Top
18.1. Source data

The LUCAS source of data is obtained via an Area Frame survey. In fact, LUCAS is the acronym of Land Use and Cover Area frame Survey.

The LUCAS field survey is conceived and designed by Eurostat. It is carried out on a sample of points spread over the entire territory of the European Union.

The LUCAS points are selected from a standard 2 km grid which comprises around 1 million points all over the EU. Only a sample of the LUCAS points is visited in each campaign.

LUCAS Survey 2009

  • · 234 561 points visited in-situ
  • · 23 countries (25 with soil data, since Cyprus and Malta collected soil on a voluntary basis)
  • · 500 field surveyors on the spot
  • · Beginning of survey by early April in Lithuania and Poland
  • · End of survey by end October in Sweden

 LUCAS Survey 2012

  • · 270 389 points visited in-situ
  • · 27 countries (of which Bulgaria and Romania collected also soil data)
  • · 594 field surveyors on the spot
  • · Beginning of the survey by mid-March in Spain
  • · End of the survey by early November in Poland and Romania

 LUCAS Survey 2015

  • · 273 401 points visited in-situ
  • · 28 countries (soil data collected in all)
  • · 700 field surveyors on the spot
  • · Beginning of the survey by mid-March in Spain
  • · End of the survey in October in Sweden
  • · A complementary sample of around 66.000 points was photo-interpreted in the office and used for surveys 2012 and 2009

LUCAS Survey 2018

  • · 238 077 field points + 99 777 (Photo–interpreted points in the office)
  • · 28 countries (soil data collected in all)
  • · 700 field surveyors on the spot
  • · Beginning of the survey by mid-March in Spain
  • · End of the survey in December in Sweden

Data on land cover and land use is collected by the surveyor in-situ, and landscape photographs are taken, enabling detection of  land cover and use and in European landscapes. Specific modules like the transect and soil module, have been implemented.

The harmonised and well-tested area frame sampling methodology and the differentiated classification for land cover and land use are considered to be the major strengths of the LUCAS survey.

So far contractors have been responsible for the data collection, the recruitment and management of the surveyors and the data delivery. 

18.2. Frequency of data collection

The frequency of the survey until 2018 has been of 3 years

  • · 2006 (pilot)
  • · 2009
  • · 2012
  • · 2015
  • · 2018
  • · 2022 (in preparation)
18.3. Data collection

For further information on Field survey, please refer to the documents on the LUCAS web Pages:

LUCAS 2006

LUCAS 2009

LUCAS 2012

LUCAS 2015

LUCAS 2018

18.4. Data validation

For further information on quality control, please refer to the following documents:

LUCAS 2009

LUCAS 2012

LUCAS 2015

LUCAS 2018

Quality Control 2015
Quality Control 2012
Quality Control 2009
18.5. Data compilation

LUCAS is a two phase sample survey.

Detailed description of sampling and estimation methodology is provided in annex and the methodology page of the LUCAS dedicated section:

LUCAS 2009 – Quality Report

LUCAS 2012 – Quality Report

LUCAS 2015 – Quality Report 

LUCAS 2009 - Quality Report
LUCAS 2012 - Quality Report
LUCAS 2015 - Quality Report
18.6. Adjustment

Not applicable

19. Comment Top

Before reading the preliminary results some warnings are useful to better interpret the figures. They refer to the following topics:

  • Distinction between land cover and land use classifications
  • Main definitions
  • Territorial coverage

 Please refer to paragraphs 3.2, 3.4 and 3.7.

Please note that the shares might not sum up to 100% due to rounding.

Concerning comparability with national data available and disseminated in EU Member States:

  • main reason for discrepancy are linked to different definition of the reference area (Total area, land area ect.) and classification.
  • however summing up broad classes such as wooded and shrub areas or grassland and cropland LUCAS results are quite similar to national sources
  • artificial areas in LUCAS is a quite restrictive definition that identifies only sealed areas, whereas the concept of urban areas in national Statitics include "Urban Green areas" such as urban park and associated areas.

Related metadata Top

Annexes Top
Annex 1 - LUCAS Peer Review Final report