Methodology - Land cover/use statistics


An in-situ area frame survey

LUCAS is an in-situ area frame survey, which means that the data are gathered through direct observations made by surveyors in the field. Land cover data can also be obtained by interpreting satellite images or orthophotos, as is done in the Corine land cover inventory.

LUCAS points belong to the intersections of a 2 km grid that includes around 1 million points all over the EU. During the LUCAS 2018 survey, a sample of around 240 000 of these points is visited on the spot by 750 field surveyors, whilst another 98 000 points are photo-interpreted in the office. The points are selected on the basis of stratification information.

Fully standardised data

The land cover/use statistics derived from the LUCAS survey are unique as they are fully standardised to use the same definitions and methodology, and are comparable among Member States.

Types of land cover and visible land use are broken down into harmonised LUCAS categories. The full supporting documents for the survey comprise a field form, where all the measured variables are listed, and detailed field surveyors' instructions, which describe quality control procedures. The full description of the statistical data set is available in the land cover/use statistics metadata.

The soil module

As in the 2009 and 2015 surveys, the LUCAS 2018 survey includes a soil module, where a topsoil sample is collected at 10 % of the points. The objective of the soil module is to improve the availability of harmonised data on soil parameters in Europe. The LUCAS soil module was implemented in cooperation with the Directorate-General for Environment and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission.