CORINE Land Cover and Land Cover Change Products

  • György Büttner
Part of the Remote Sensing and Digital Image Processing book series (RDIP, volume 18)


CORINE Land Cover (CLC) was specified to standardize data collection on land in Europe to support environmental policy development. Since the late 1980s, three iterations of this land cover inventories have been realised (timed around 1990, 2000 and 2006). The 4th inventory recently commenced, as part of the GIO land (GMES Initial Operations Land) project. CLC is widely used in indicator development, environmental modelling and land use/land cover change analysis in the European context. The number of participating countries has increased over time – currently 39, including 32 European Environment Agency (EEA) member countries and seven cooperating countries, with a total area coverage of 5,8 Mkm2. Ortho-corrected high spatial resolution satellite images provide the geometrical basis for mapping. In-situ data (e.g. topographic maps, ortho-photos, and ground survey data) are essential ancillary information. The project is mainly co-financed by the European Commission and participating countries and implemented by national teams under the management and quality control of EEA. The basic technical parameters of CLC (i.e. nomenclature, 25 ha minimum mapping unit and 100 m minimum mapping width) have not changed since the beginning of the project; therefore the results of the different inventories are comparable. The method of mapping has, however, changed significantly. Working on plastic overlay at the start was fully replaced by computer assisted photo-interpretation (CAPI). In the Scandinavian countries and recently in Germany and Ireland, labour-intensive photo-interpretation was partly substituted by a semi-automatic classification methodology based on the integration of existing land use data, satellite image processing and generalization. CORINE Land Cover Changes (CLCC) are derived from satellite imagery by the direct mapping of changes based on image-to-image comparison. Change mapping applies a 5 ha MMU to pick up much more detail in CLCC layer than in CLC status layer. Two European validation studies have shown that the achieved accuracy is above the specified minimum (85 %) for CLC, as well as for CLCC. Results of the three CLC inventories can be downloaded from the EEA Data Service free of charge for all users. One of the proposed ways to increase the value of CLC in the future is to populate landscape level objects of the CLC database with high spatial resolution land cover features. The GIO land project is making the first steps towards this.


Land Cover Satellite Imagery European Space Agency European Environment Agency CORINE Land Cover 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The first CORINE Land Cover inventory was technically coordinated by Chris Steenmans and Michel Bossard. The nomenclature was finalised by Michel Bossard and Jan Feranec. In the CLC2000 and CLC2006 projects, the following experts contributed to the work of the CLC Technical Team led by the author: Barbara Kosztra, Jan Feranec, Gabriel Jaffrain, László Mari (verification), Gergely Maucha, Robert Pataki (validation) and Tomas Soukup (final technical control and European integration). Advices given by Geoff Smith to restructure the article are highly appreciated. Last but not least, the author would like to acknowledge the contribution of all national project managers and national teams.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.European Environment Agency (EEA)CopenhagenDenmark

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