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The USGS Land Cover Institute (LCI)



North American Land Change Monitoring System

Download the North American Land Change Monitoring System legend.

Click to view the North American Land Change Monitoring System in a larger view.

The North American Land Change Monitoring System (NALCMS) is a joint project between Natural Resources Canada/Canada Center for Remote Sensing (NRCan/CCRS); the United States Geological Survey (USGS); and three Mexican organizations: the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Insituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía - INEGI); National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad - CONABIO); and the National Forestry Commission of Mexico (Comisión Nacional Forestal - CONAFOR). The project is facilitated by the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC). The North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) is an international organization created under the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC) by Canada, Mexico and the United States to address regional environmental concerns, help prevent potential trade and environmental conflicts and promote the effective enforcement of environmental law.

The objective of NALCMS is to devise, through a collective effort, a harmonized multi-scale land cover monitoring framework, which can be applied across North America with high accuracy meeting each countries specific requirements. The new 2005 Land Cover Database of North America at 250 m spatial resolution is the first step toward achieving this objective.

The product is based on observations acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). Mapping was preformed by each country using unique data pre-processing and information extraction methodologies. These national products were subsequently used to assemble an integrated North America land cover database. The classification legend is designed in three hierarchical levels using the Food and Agriculture Organization (FOA) Land Classification System. Level I and II are common for North America while level III is country specific.

Information provided by this land cover database is valuable for a range of users including, international organizations such as the United Nations Environment Programme, non-governmental conservation organizations, land managers, and scientific researchers. The continental scale land cover data generated under NALCMS can be used to address issues such as climate change, carbon sequestration, biodiversity loss, and changes in ecosystem structure and function, by helping users to better understand the dynamics and continental-scale patterns of North America's changing environment.

This land cover data is available without cost at the Commission for Environmental Cooperation web site.

Please cite this database as: "2005 North American Land Cover at 250 m spatial resolution. Produced by Natural Resources Canada/Canadian Center for Remote Sensing (NRCan/CCRS), United States Geological Survey (USGS); Insituto Nacional de Estadística y Geografía (INEGI), Comisión Nacional para el Conocimiento y Uso de la Biodiversidad (CONABIO) and Comisión Nacional Forestal (CONAFOR)."









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Page Last Modified: November 2016