Global Land Cover Network (GLCN)

Land cover assessment and monitoring of its dynamics are essential requirements for the sustainable management of natural resources, environmental protection, food security, humanitarian programmes as well as core data for monitoring and modelling. Land cover data are therefore fundamental in fulfilling the mandates of many United Nations, international and national institutions and programmes. Despite the recognition of such importance, current users of land cover data still lack access to sufficient reliable or comparable baseline land cover data.

In 2004 the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), with the financial and technical support of the Government of Italy through the Cooperazione Italiana and the Istituto Agronomico per l’Oltremare (IAO), created the Global Land Cover Network (GLCN) with the specific aim to answer the request of stakeholders.

Specifically the objectives of the initiative are to establish a global collaboration for developing a fully harmonized approach to make the required reliable and comparable land cover and land cover change data accessible to local, national and international initiatives. In particular, GLCN is intended to support the stakeholder community in developing countries that have difficulty in producing and releasing reliable, consistent and updated information.


  • Harmonize land cover definitions, classification systems, mapping and monitoring specifications
  • Develop standards for global mapping.
  • Initiate building of a global database.
  • Promote outreach initiatives on development methodologies and applications of land cover data.
  • Provide advisory services.
  • Function as an international, politically neutral and not-for-profit clearinghouse for land cover information at global and regional levels.