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Land cover coverage and data duplication

One of the major principles of INSPIRE is not to duplicate data. But land cover (if we want to provide full coverage of the area) includes water bodies (lakes, rivers) that are also present in hydrography theme and may also include roads and other transportation areas (also in transport networks theme). Currently there does not seem to be ways of linking land cover theme objects to objects in other themes. In Estonia the source database for LC will be Estonian Topographic Database, which is also used to provide data for HY and TN themes.

What is better approach: to avoid duplication (and abandon full coverage in LC) or duplicate data in several themes? In case of duplication there could rise some conflicts between unique identifiers as well, as the same local feature is used twice. Is somebody facing similar problems or have recommendations, how should we implement the land cover theme from this point of view? I haven’t found the exact answer from directive, data specification or this forum.

  • Lena Hallin-Pihlatie

    By Lena Hallin-Pihlatie

    I don’t have an exact answer to your questions, but here’s some guidelines from the Technical Guidelines on Land Cover on page 18:

    ”Land cover data provides a description of the surface of the earth by its (bio-) physical characteristics.

    In the real world, this surface is populated with physical landscape elements (e.g. buildings, roads, trees, plants, water bodies etc.). Many of these elements are themselves spatial features and represented as such by other INSPIRE themes. The physical characteristics of the landscape elements combine to form the land cover of an area. Land cover is in this sense an abstraction and should be perceived as a surface characteristic rather than a collection of features. Mapping and description of land cover is therefore also different from the mapping of the individual landscape elements”

    So the aim is to get as full a coverage as possible, and then it’s impossible, as you say, to avoid duplication.


    Regarding the Unique identifiers, perhaps you can overcome the problem somehow by connecting the URIs/identifiers that are related to the same spatial object. FYI: as you work in Estonia and maybe can understand Finnish, there’s a brand new public administration recommendation JHS 193 on Unique identifiers of the geographic information




  • Lena Hallin-Pihlatie

    By Lena Hallin-Pihlatie


    FYI, the reasoning regarding this land cover coverage and data duplication issue in the ELF project:

    "As ELF considers different levels of detail (ranging from about 1:1000 to 1: 1 Mio scale). Especially, in smaller scales it is impossible to achieve a full coverage as you would need to aggregate land cover units in a useful way. Mainly for the purpose of creating a topographic basemap we came up with a simplified but harmonised hierarchical land cover classification that support generalization between the levels of detail.  See

    The intention of the hierarchical levels is that every NMCA could use the levels that fit the best with the national systems.

    We excluded hydrographic features (just considering Water::Solid::PermamentSnowAndIce) and have a generalized view on “artificial surfaces and constructions” including residential areas and “Other artificial surface and construction”.  Residential areas are used to complement GN::NamedPlace of type PopulatedPlace. There is a possibility to provide reference from the populated place to the land cover using the attribute “relatedSpatialObject”."

    I hope this helps,


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