National Ecological Framework (13 of 23)

Land Cover

The land cover classes are based on the digital land and hard copy land cover maps of Canada produced by the Manitoba Remote Sensing Centre (MRSC) of the Surveys and mapping Branch, Department of natural resources in 1992. The maps were produced through the classification of Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) United States national Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellite imagery. Imagery from several years (summer coverage, 1988-1991) was required to produce a cloud-free composite for the entire country that was suitable for classification and interpretation.  The following attributes are included:

COVER Land Cover

The following land cover codes are used:

1 Mixed Forest: canopy 26-75% coniferous/broadleaf trees
2 Broadleaf Forest: canopy > 75% broadleaf trees
4 Transitional Forest: forest land < 50% of the area
5 Coniferous Forest: canopy > 75% coniferous trees
6 Tundra: treeless arctic and alpine vegetation
7 Sparsely Vegetated/Barren Land: plant cover generally < 25%
8 Perennial Snow or Ice: perennial snowfields or glaciers
9 Cropland: cultivated land
10 Rangeland and Pasture: native vegetation with < 10% tree cover
11 Built-up Area: Cities and towns

The land cover map of Canada project was conducted for the National Atlas Information Service (NAIS) of Energy, Mines and Resources Canada with the cooperation of the Petawawa National Forest Institute of Forestry Canada and the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing (Pokrant et. Al. 1991). Canadian Forest Inventory members from across Canada assisted in the review and revision process. Limitations of the approach include the level of accuracy of the data (maximum resolution of 1 km), timeframe to obtain cloud free scenes, and the limited number of cover categories that were identified. It proved to be a reliable source for mapping land cover at scales of 1:2 000 000 and 1:7.5 000 000.


Energy, Mines and resources Canada and Forestry Canada. 1993. Canada: Vegetation cover. National Atlas of Canada, 5th Edition. Map MCR 4182. National Atlas Information Service and Petawawa national Forestry Institute, Ottawa.


Pokrant, H.T., Palko, S. Lowe, J.J. 1991. The use of remote Sensing in Producing the National Atlas of Canada. Proceedings, Ministry of natural Resources and Canadian Insitute of surveying and Mapping GIS Seminar, November, 1991, Toronto.