CEC Releases New Digital Land Cover/Land Use Map of North America, Most Accurate Available at This Scale
Montreal, 20 March 2023 — The Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) is pleased to release the latest trinational digital land cover map of North America, under the North American Land Change Monitoring System (NALCMS), a collaboration with the Governments of Canada, Mexico and the United States and their respective mapping agencies. This land cover map is the most accurate map available at this scale and is publicly available through the North American Environmental Atlas.
“We at the CEC are proud of this new digital map, comprising approximately 24 billion pixels, and depicting land cover across North America for the year 2020 at a 30-meter spatial resolution. It is derived from USGS’s Landsat satellite imagery and cross-checked with ground observations for accuracy, making it the most accurate land cover map at the North American scale,” said Dominique Croteau, CEC Project Lead for Geospatial and Environmental Information.
Land cover refers to the classification of surface cover on the ground, whether forest, urban infrastructure, bodies of water or agricultural land, etc., helping to distinguish natural and anthropogenic features. Identifying, delineating, and mapping land cover (or land use) is important for global, regional and local monitoring studies, resource management and planning activities. Land cover classes can include natural features such as tropical forest, shrubland, grassland, and water bodies, but also human-made features such as urban areas and cropland.
This new land cover map, presented by the CEC, harmonizes land cover classification into 19 comparable classes across Canada, Mexico and the United States. The NALCMS land cover classes are based on the Land Cover Classification System (LCCS) standard developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.
“People can appreciate that land cover information is necessary for a large range of applications related to environmental decision-making, natural resource management, adaptation to climate impacts, emergency response, environmental conservation and restoration and many more. Our goal with the North American land cover product is to support policy- and decision-makers, researchers, international and intergovernmental organizations, NGOs, land managers, among many others, from local to global, by allowing them to better understand the dynamics and patterns of North America’s land cover and to conduct both regional and local-level analyses,” concluded Croteau.