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Cross-border projects

This discussion topic is dedicated to cross-border projects, which are of relevance to the INSPIRE Land Cover and Land Use community, and why not for others too.

Pavel, could you start by telling us something about the SPATIAL project? What have you done there and how is your work related to the implementation of INSPIRE? What specifically have you used INSPIRE for?



  • Pavel MILENOV


    We are greatly interested to share the outcomes of the cross-border cooperation (CBC) project SPATIAL that are relevant to INSPIRE.

    Cross-Border Cooperation (CBC) Project SPATIAL “Common Strategy for Sustainable Territorial Development of the cross-border area Romania-Bulgaria” is a flagship project, funded by the European Regional Development Fund. A key work package of the project was the development of common resources for a territorial planning for the cross-border area between Bulgaria and Romania, which comprises large part of Lower Danube. It required a setting-up and development of harmonized datasets and interoperable services at macro-regional level in compliance with INSPIRE principles to allow efficient cross-border analysis and reporting. A particular output of the project was the generation of detailed common land cover database for the cross-border area (70 000, based on the philosophy of the Land Cover Meta Language (ISO 19144-2). Data is provided through a dedicated geo-portal (SmartCover), using open sources operational software and flexible architecture to support future system upgrade and the setting-up relevant services.  This can be considered the first EU harmonized trans-border spatial database of its kind.

    Reference land cover was elaborated by the Bulgarian Agency for Sustainable Development and Eurointegration (ASDE) in coordination with the Romanian partners from the project, and with a methodological and data support from the Joint Research Centre (more particular the MARS Unit and the Digital Earth and Reference Data Unit).

    With respect to the actual work, it was obvious for us that we cannot achieve data integration and harmonization across borders if we do not implement INSPIRE. Moreover, we have found that, despite certain limitations and bottlenecks identified, it well serves its purpose in trans-border aspect.

    However, full INPSIRE compliance was not a project requirement with respect to the spatial data as part of the common geodatabase. Certainly, we decided to use and implemented INPSIRE specifications as far as the scope and budget of the project allowed. It should be noted that the major part of the work was related to new data collection on land cover. Data integration and harmonization took relatively small part of the Work Package 3 activities.

    Also, I would like to clarify that INSPIRE feasibility testing was not an objective of the CBC project; we used INSPIRE to resolve certain conceptual, technical and "engineering" problems we have faced during the project implementation. For that reason, we haven't yet documented and compiled all issues encountered in systematic manner. But we are keen to share our experience in one way or another.

    Now, let me give you some information on how and where we have used INSPIRE.

    The common database contains the following main thematic datasets:

    - administrative boundaries and territorial units for statistics

    - transport network - road and railway

    - hydrography - rivers and standing water bodies

    - land cover

    - protected areas

    - soil

    - statistics (at NUTS 3 and LAU2)

    1. Firstly, we decided to model all spatial features and their parameters in compliance with INSPIRE data specifications, as much as possible. For each thematic dataset, we apply the relevant mandatory attributes, depending on the INSPIRE Annex Theme the dataset belonged to. There were certain limited cases where national authorities provided extra alpha-numeric information that was not fully within the scope of the available parameters in the relevant DS.

    We tried to achieve full interoperability of the spatial data with respect to its thematic information following INSPIRE principles. But we do not claim that dataset are INSPIRE compliant as the degree of conformity was never evaluated. We are interested to apply conformity testing, but currently we do not have resources and budget for that.

    2. For the elaboration of the common land cover nomenclature, we have used the principles laid down in Annex F and G of the INSPIRE DS on Land cover.

    3. We had some issues to report data quality and validation results due to the limited (or too generic) possibilities given by INSPIRE; for that reason we use the lineage field in the INSPIRE metadata, which although useful resulted in quite a lot of descriptive text and explanations for certain themes.

    4. The most challenging (and I think, the most interesting) was the cross-border harmonization of thematic information. Since the alpha-numeric data was provided according to the national nomenclatures of both countries, we had to map them, wherever possible, to the enumerations and codelists provided by the DS. Here we have some interesting findings, which we still need to compile.

    5. Similar issues, we have found with respect to the portrayal rules, as they were heavily dependent on the outcomes of the common codelists mapping.

    6. The database was designed and stored in PostGreSQL.

    7. We had a substantial amount of statistical information and detailed spatial planning data at local (urban) level that is not yet part of the CBC database, but which we would like to harmonize and integrate in future.

    For your information, here is the web site of the project with all technical deliverables.

    However, to get an overview and understand the scope of the project it might be better to start with this presentation:

  • Lena Hallin-Pihlatie

    By Lena Hallin-Pihlatie

    Thank you very much Pavel and good to hear that you have found INSPIRE useful in the SPATIAL cross-border project.

    In your reply, you mention that you have identified certain limitations and bottlenecks - related to its INSPIRE's implementation in trans-national areas and perhaps also in general - and you also mention a few.

    I would be particularly interested getting more detailed information on your experiences and identified liminations and bottlenecks related to the portrayal rules and to the cross-border harmonisation of thematic information. Please share some more information on these issues, once you have it compiled.

    I would also be interested to "hear" more about your experiences of using ISO 19144-2  Land Cover Meta Language (LCML) - i.e. the principles of Annex G of the INSPIRE DS on Land Cover - in your work. 



  • Pavel MILENOV

    Dear Lena,


    I will briefly mention the key elements in using LCML and INSPIRE DS for the elaboration of the common land cover nomenclature and the translation of the land cover types for the reference land cover of the CBC project SPATIAL, as more detailed description will be provided in the publication for the INSPIRE conference in Lisbon and the incoming book “Land Use and Land Cover Semantics: Principles, Best Practices, and Prospects”.

    Regarding the lminations and bottlenecks related to the portrayal rules and to the cross-border harmonisation of thematic information, more information will be soon published on the dedicated web page of project SPATIAL in BSDI portal.

    The common land cover nomenclature was elaborated on the basis of previous concepts designed together with Wim Devos from JRC in the course of the preparation of Annex G (Pure Land Cover Components).

    The purpose of the common land cover nomenclature was to provide the concept and method to describe the land purely based on land cover characteristics, taking into account the latest developments of INSPIRE, the LCML and LCCS concepts, as well as the novel TEGON approach. Furthermore, it has to act also as a sort of generalized legend to which national LC nomenclatures and products will be mapped in order to derive harmonized dataset at the level of the cross-border area. 


    The stratification of the land is based on generic land cover “primitives” or primary land cover (LC) types. The list of the types was meant to be:  scale-independent; flat (all LC types are on the same level of detail); exhaustive and unambiguous (LC types are mutually exclusive). We used the UML model of the LCML, combined with the dichotomous approach of the LCCS and TEGON concept, by starting this list from the most generic (upper) level of the model with only two main land cover types (biotic/abiotic) and further sub-dividing them by adding land cover classifiers (elements) while going step-wise at lower (more detailed) hierarchical level of the LMCL model. The process was not always straightforward as LCML concept is different than the one applied in the LCCS. Each LC type was then coded and expressed in LCML terms (see LCML description in XML).



    More information on the subject is given in:


    Using data from COPERNICUS and LPIS for developing Cross-Border databases of land cover for the countries of the Danube River Basin




    Presentation of General territorial database and methodology for INSPIRE harmonization, of a summit meeting at the Institute for Environment and Sustainability of DG JRC in Italy on 16.04.2014



    For the translation of the national land cover types for the reference land cover of the CBC project SPATIAL, the guidances of Annex F are used.  It is important to note that the classed all national datasets used in the CBC project were based on the FAO LCCS.


    The process involved on the following actions:


    1. Import LCCS Class from national Legend

    2. Decompose the LCCS class using TEGON concept and LCML

    1. Analyze the presence of cartographic or functional mix

    2. Filter out land use descriptors

    3. Design of LC type (polytegon) with LCML

    4. Convert relevant national spatial data according to the correspondent LC type



    A graphical illustration of the process is given in the presentation below:




    Best Regards,


Land Cover & Use

Land Cover & Use

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