Physical and biological cover of the earth's surface including artificial surfaces, agricultural areas, forests, (semi-)natural areas, wetlands, water bodies.
Land cover data is a physical or biological description of the earth surface. In this way it is different from the land use data (Annex III, theme number 4), dedicated to the description of the use of the Earth surface.
Land cover information has to be homogenous and comparable between different locations in Europe, based on the infrastructures for Land Cover information created by the Member States (if existing), and made available and maintained at the most appropriate level.
A land cover data set consists of a collection of land cover units. These units may be points, polygons or raster cells (resulting in two core models, one for vector data and one for raster data). The land cover data set is also linked to a code list (e.g. the CORINE Land Cover code list). CORINE Land Cover as well as most regional and national land cover data sets, can be represented using one of the core models.
Land cover information used in monitoring linked to EU agricultural policy (IACS), in carbon monitoring (LULUCF) and used in land and ecosystem accounting based on CORINE Land Cover (LEAC).