Knowledge for policy
Dataset 18 August 2020

Harmonised LUCAS in-situ land cover and use database for field surveys from 2006 to 2018 in the European Union

Accurately characterizing land surface changes with Earth Observation requires geo-localized ground truth. In the European Union (EU), a tri-annual surveyed sample of land cover and land use has been collected since 2006 under the Land Use/Cover Area frame Survey (LUCAS). A total of 1,351,293 observations at 651,780 unique locations for 117 variables along with 5.4 million photos were collected during five LUCAS surveys. Until now, these data have never been harmonised into one database, limiting full exploitation of the information. This paper describes the LUCAS point sampling/surveying methodology, including collection of standard variables such as land cover, environmental parameters, and full resolution landscape and point photos, and then describes the harmonisation process. The resulting harmonised database is the most comprehensive in-situ dataset on land cover and use in the EU. The database is valuable for geo-spatial and statistical analysis of land use and land cover change. Furthermore, its potential to provide multi-temporal in-situ data will be enhanced by recent computational advances such as deep learning.