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The Standardization and Harmonization of Land Cover Classification Systems towards Harmonized Datasets: A Review

School of Resource and Earth Sciences, China University of Mining and Technology, Xuzhou 221116, China
Key Laboratory of Coal Bed Gas Resources and Forming Process of Ministry of Education, China University of Mining and Technology, Xuzhou 221116, China
Department of Civil Engineering, Ryerson University, Toronto, ON M5B 2K3, Canada
Geomatics Center of China, Beijing 100830, China
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Jun Chen, Shu Peng and Wolfgang Kainz
ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2017, 6(5), 154;
Received: 31 March 2017 / Revised: 15 May 2017 / Accepted: 15 May 2017 / Published: 19 May 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Analysis and Applications of Global Land Cover Data)
PDF [1222 KB, uploaded 22 May 2017]


A number of national, regional and global land cover classification systems have been developed to meet specific user requirements for land cover mapping exercises, independent of scale, nomenclature and quality. However, this variety of land-cover classification systems limits the compatibility and comparability of land cover data. Furthermore, the current lack of interoperability between different land cover datasets, often stemming from incompatible land cover classification systems, makes analysis of multi-source, heterogeneous land cover data for various applications a very difficult task. This paper provides a critical review of the harmonization of land cover classification systems, which facilitates the generation, use and analysis of land cover maps consistently. Harmonization of existing land cover classification systems is essential to improve their cross-comparison and validation for understanding landscape patterns and changes. The paper reviews major land cover classification standards according to different scales, summarizes studies on harmonizing land cover mapping, and discusses some research problems that need to be solved and some future research directions. View Full-Text
Keywords: land cover; classification system; standard; harmonization land cover; classification system; standard; harmonization

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Yang, H.; Li, S.; Chen, J.; Zhang, X.; Xu, S. The Standardization and Harmonization of Land Cover Classification Systems towards Harmonized Datasets: A Review. ISPRS Int. J. Geo-Inf. 2017, 6, 154.

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