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Land Cover

The ability to efficiently and effectively characterize Canada’s vast land mass using remote sensing is key to understanding our natural resources and underpins the strategies for land management aimed at achieving environmental, social and economic sustainability, while meeting the challenge of climate change.

Land cover classifications assign areas exhibiting different surface cover or type to well-characterized classes. Classes are defined by geologic, hydrologic, climatic, atmospheric and land-use processes. There can be only a few classes (water, bare rock, forest, agriculture, urban) or many. The more classes, the more detailed the land cover becomes, differentiating one type or forest or scrub land or wetland from multiple others. Land cover can be produced at a various spatial and temporal scales, ranging from infrequent to annual, and from local to expansive. 

The Canada Centre for Mapping and Earth Observation (CCMEO) has produced a number of national scale and northern land cover products at varying resolution.  Due to the size of Canada’s landmass, national scale land cover classifications require creating a mosaic of a large number of satellite images acquired over a relatively short period of time. Also derived from CCMEO-produced Long-term Satellite Data Records (LTSDR) are vegetation indices including the monitoring of vegetation change trends over time.

For more information on the CCMEO’ activities related to land cover, visit these factsheets:

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