Special Interest Group | Land Use & Land Cover


About the SIG

The EARSeL SIG LULC has been founded to bring together scientists and agencies working on monitoring and quantifying land use and land cover by the means of remote sensing. In this regard, a fundamental field in this domain has been both the continuous improvement of algorithms for classification of land cover and land use as well as quantifying changes to allow for the support of ecological and climate monitoring as well as to provide decision-support for land managers. For this purpose, the SIG is open to all kinds of sensors such as optical, thermal, microwave or LiDAR and also welcomes remote sensing from different remote sensing platforms, such as satellite, airborne and UAV.

Our vision 2021-2024
Since 2021, we have the honor to be appointed as chairpersons and aim to continue the valuable work done by the previous leaders to bring the effort forward enlarging the EARSeL network and connecting it with the major efforts at the regional and global scales as well as cooperate with relevant LCLUC regional and international programs, primarily the NASA LCLUC. For the actual period (2021-2024), our vision and overall aim is twofold:

•            Enhance Open and Reproducible EO Science in the context of Data Cubes
•            Integrate Essential Climate Variables (ECVs) into LULC(C) research and consistency assessment

Our first main objective for this SIG is to enhance and strengthen Open and Reproducible EO Science. Indeed, Open Science is increasingly advocated for making scientific research more accessible and usable by different categories of users. However, Earth Observations Open Science is still undervalued, and different challenges remain (e.g., socio-cultural, technological, political, organizational, economic and legal) to achieve the vision of transforming EO data into actionable knowledge by lowering the entry barrier to massive-use Big Earth Data analysis and derived information products. Consequently, it is crucial to support the development of effective means to build socially robust, transparent, accessible, replicable, and reusable knowledge, to generate decision-ready products based on Land Use & Land Cover data. In this regard, we think that the Data Cube technology together with dense time-series (e.g., Landsat and Sentinel) in Europe will improve LCLUC monitoring.

The second main objective is dedicated to the thematic expansion/intensification of ECVs and their impact assessment of LULCC, which could be worth considering for several reasons. The current situation is that research on the intercomparison of diverse ECVs is still at its infancy while impact assessment of LULCC regarding biogeophysical effects using ECVs is gaining importance to assess and understand global change. As satellite derived ECVs become more available, they will also be used to analyze LULCC effects. Therefore, knowledge and integration of the uncertainties of individual ECVS will be of great importance. In this regard, EARSEL’s SIGs on various ECVs (i.e., forest fire, land ice and snow, thermal remote sensing) offer great potential for collaboration. We want to stimulate particularly research both in the field of ECV intercomparison studies and LULCC impact assessment. The workshops of the SIG should serve as platforms to foster regional research across institutes, accounting for the diversity of LULC types.

Ultimately, LULC remote sensing is critical to contribute to applied research using powerful geospatial and statistical analyses in environmental sciences with the objective to serve as a source of “actionable” and timely early warnings of emerging issues and environmental change, and related multi- scale assessments, based on scientific data, indicators, and real-time information, and help to catalyze “evidence-based” responses. To reach this objective, we think that a paradigm shift is essential moving from traditional data-centric approaches to information- and knowledge-centric approaches. To fully realize the value chain of EO data, the Data- Information-Knowledge-Wisdom (DIKW) paradigm can facilitate evidence-based decision-making processes and inform us about Earth’s limits. Therefore, exploring how best to apply DIKW on LCLUC would be valuable.

Upcoming EARSeL events

43nd EARSeL Symposium

Manchester, June 17 – 20 2024

More information

with Workshop on LULC

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EARSeL Book Series, Remote Sensing and Digital Image Processing, Volume 18

Thanks to an initiative in 2011 during the 4th SIG Workshop in Prague the members and chairmen of the SIG managed to launch in March 2014 the Land Use and Land Cover Mapping in Europe – Practices & Trends Book within the EARSeL Book Series, Springer Verlag. Topics covered include:

A. Framework conditions

  • Remote Sensing in support of the geo-information in Europe.
  • Global land cover mapping: Current status and future trends.
  • The users’ role in the current European land monitoring context.
  • Towards an European land cover monitoring service and high-resolution layers.

B. Operational European Mapping and monitoring services:

  • CORINE Land Cover and land cover change products.
  • European Area Frame Sampling based on Very High Resolution image.
  • European forest monitoring approaches.
  • The European Urban Atlas.

C. State of the art mapping methods

  • A review of modern approaches to classification of remote sensing data.
  • Recent advances in remote sensing change detection – a review.
  • Synergies from SAR-optical data fusion for LULC mapping.
  • Application of object-oriented method for classification of VHR satellite images using rule-based approach and texture measures.

D. National practice examples

  • Remote sensing of vegetation for nature conservation.- Modeling urban sprawl.- Land Information System Austria (LISA).
  • Digital Land Cover Model for Germany DLM DE.
  • Land Use & land cover mapping in Europe: Examples from the UK.
  • Operational land cover and land use mapping in the Netherlands.
  • The use of the Land-Cover Classification System in Eastern European countries: experiences, lessons learnt and the way forward.

E. Multi-temporal monitoring in support of decision making and implementation at regional, national and local scale

  • Differentiation of Crop Types and Grassland by Multi-Scale Analysis of Seasonal Satellite Data.
  • Enhancing remotely sensed low resolution vegetation data for assessing Mediterranean areas prone to land degradation.
  • Beyond NDVI: Extraction of biophysical variables from remote sensing imagery.
  • Land transformation processes in NE China: Tracking trade-offs in ecosystem services across several decades with Landsat-TM/ETM+ time series.
  • Carbon stock estimation of tropical forests on Borneo, Indonesia, for REDD+.

Thanks to all contributors (authors, reviewers, co-editors, Book Series editors) and their Institutes, EARSeL, and Springer Verlag.

Back cover text reference: Land use and land cover (LULC) as well as its changes (LUCC) are an interplay between bio-geophysical characteristics of the landscape and climate as well as the complex human interaction including its different patterns of utilization superimposed on the natural vegetation. LULC is a core information layer for a variety of scientific and administrative tasks(e.g. hydrological modelling, climate models, land use planning).In particular in the context of climate change with its impacts on socio-economic, socio-ecologic systems as well as ecosystem services precise information on LULC and LUCC are mandatory baseline datasets required over large areas. Remote sensing can provide such information on different levels of detail and in a homogeneous and reliable way. Hence, LULC mapping can be regarded as a prototype for integrated approaches based on spaceborne and airborne remote sensing techniques combined with field observations. The book provides for the first time a comprehensive view of various LULC activities focusing on European initiatives, such as the LUCAS surveys, the CORINE land covers, the ESA/EU GMES program and its resulting Fast-Track- and Downstream Services, the EU JRC Global Land Cover, the ESA GlobCover project as well as the ESA initiative on Essential Climate Variables. All have and are producing highly appreciated land cover products. The book will cover the operational approaches, but also review current state-of-the-art scientific methodologies and recommendations for this field. It opens the view with best-practice examples that lead to a view that exceeds pure mapping, but to investigate into drivers and causes as well as future projections.




The Special Interest Group (SIG) organizes regular workshops on a bi-annual basis. The workshops are organized with invited oral presentations and posters, with plenty of time for discussions and exchange. Additional sessions on the SIG topics are proposed within the annual EARSeL symposium.

Our next workshop will take place at the EARSeL Symposium 17 – 20 June 2024 in Manchester.

Previous Workshops & Conference Sessions

Recent stand-alone workshops were held in:



Gregory Giuliani, Dr.
University of Geneva/Institute for Environmental Sciences
66 Boulevard Carl-Vogt
CH-1205 Geneva

phone: +49 (0)22 370 07 09
e-mail: gregory.giuliani (at) unige.ch
homepage: https://www.unige.ch/envirospace/people/giuliani/

Birgitta Putzenlechner, Dr.
Georg-August-University Göttingen, Institute of Geography/ Department Cartography, GIS and Remote Sensing
Goldschmidtstr. 5
GER-37077 Göttingen

phone: +49 (0)551/39-28003
e-mail: birgitta.putzenlechner (at) uni-goettingen.de
homepage: https://www.uni-goettingen.de/en/580014.html



Mailing list

If you wish to be part of the SIG and exchange with other European colleagues, then just please mail to one (or both) of the chair person (details are provided above in the Contact section).