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From Land Cover to Land Use: A Methodology for Efficient Land Use Mapping over Large Areas

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Land use information over large areas is increasingly important for many studies related to environment in general and global change in particular. Yet there is a dearth of methodological knowledge in this area, especially regarding the practical task of producing land use maps. In this article, a systematic land use mapping approach is developed, based on land cover maps that in turn are produced through remote sensing. The concept is based on the recognition of varying strengths of land cover (LC) – land use (LU) relationships, from the thematic and spatial points of view. Several categories of relationships are identified, ranging from direct (case 1) to multiple/complex (case 4), and appropriate mapping strategies are discussed for these cases. Using a mapping study in Lebanon, it is shown that the principles embodied in this approach correspond to issues and conditions in real mapping situations. Finally, the concepts are translated into a series of steps through which the method can be applied to large areas, taking into consideration the specific requirements and constraints of each case. The final land use map represents an acceptable compromise between accuracy, level of detail, and cost.

Keywords: land cover; land use; methods; remote sensing

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Canada Centre for Remote Sensing, 2: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Publication date: 2001-05-01

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