Validation of land cover products is a fundamental task prior to data applications. Current validation schemes and methods are, however, suited only for assessing classification accuracy and disregard the reliability of land cover products. The reliability evaluation of land cover products should be undertaken to provide reliable land cover information. In addition, the lack of high-quality reference data often constrains validation and affects the reliability results of land cover products. This study proposes a validation schema to evaluate the reliability of land cover products, including two methods, namely, result reliability evaluation and process reliability evaluation. Result reliability evaluation computes the reliability of land cover products using seven reliability indicators. Process reliability evaluation analyzes the reliability propagation in the data production process to obtain the reliability of land cover products. Fuzzy fault tree analysis is introduced and improved in the reliability analysis of a data production process. Research results show that the proposed reliability evaluation scheme is reasonable and can be applied to validate land cover products. Through the analysis of the seven indicators of result reliability evaluation, more information on land cover can be obtained for strategic decision-making and planning, compared with traditional accuracy assessment methods. Process reliability evaluation without the need for reference data can facilitate the validation and reflect the change trends of reliabilities to some extent.
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