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International cooperation and technology transfer
Fras, Mojca Kosmatin

to farmers, establishment of a rural development
policy including protection and improving the
environment), the Regional Cohesion policy
(including a European Spatial Development
Perspective, Initiatives on Urban Areas etc.) or the
transport policy (e.g. Trans European Networks). On
national and international level, mostly geo-
referenced statistical data is used for the formulation
of polices in various fields such as agriculture,
forestry, rural development and landscape,
environment, urban areas etc. On local and regional
level mostly geographic map data on land cover /
land use is required for purposes of town
management and administration, spatial planning,
environmental monitoring etc.
For answering the needs numerous information
systems on land cover and land use do exist in
European countries at all levels but when it comes
to analysis at the European level these are not
harmonised and not comparable regarding the
content point of view and the geographic point of
The problem of compatibility between the data from
different systems is of crucial importance:
• Information systems or data sets are created for
specific sectoral purposes (e.g. for agriculture
statistics, forest resource assessment,
environment monitoring etc.). The different
'universes' of the sectors are overlapping each
other but the land use or land cover categories
are not compatible.
• Data collection follows different approaches:
exhaustive mapping vs. statistical sampling
approaches. Depending on the purpose of the
application and the financial resources available
one or the other approach is chosen. Earth
observation provides raw data (aerial
photographs or satellite imagery) covering large
areas but the information derived thereof
satisfies only partly the requirements.
• Spatial restitution units applied in the statistical
approaches are varying greatly (from census
block level to national or even European level).
• Mapping units vary depending on the defined
scale so that geometry and data content, even
with the same subject, are not compatible.
This situation is not satisfying regarding the need of
comparable information at the international level.
Existing data may only be harmonised at the
European level with great limitations or not at all. It
means that suitable data required for applications at
the European level, consistent in terms of thematic
content and geographic detail / restitution and
covering the whole area of interest (so at least the
15 EU Member States), is simply not available.
Improvement of the situation described above can
be achieved through different approaches. One
approach to that problem is to carry out projects at
European level. The CORINE Land Cover project
launched by the European Commission in 1985
aimed at satisfying the needs for basic data on land
cover and land use in environmental applications.
Today, the European Environment Agency (EEA),
now responsible for the CORINE program (Co
ordination of information related to the environment)
plans for an up-date of the CORINE Land Cover
database. Specific surveys are carried out for
specific purposes, e.g. the operational activities
developed by the MARS project (Monitoring
Agriculture with Remote Sensing) through regional
inventories or the fraud control on subsidies for the
Directorate General for Agriculture (DG AGRI) of the
European Commission.
Harmonisation and integration of existing data sets
is another way to overcome the problem. As already
mentioned the results of land cover / land use data
integration are very limited today because of the
many incompatibilities of the data sets and the
necessary generalisation and aggregation
procedures. To comply with its mission 'to provide
the European Union with a high-quality information
service' Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the
European Communities, re-activated in 1996 a
working group on land use statistics that is dealing
with the subject. During the meetings, the problems
are identified and discussed at technical and
institutional level. The conclusions drawn by the
working group are input to the Eurostat statistical
work programme on land use statistics. Besides
technical issues, Eurostat animates the co
ordination of different Commission services
concerned with land cover / use information, that are
the Directorate General for Agriculture (DG AGRI),
the Directorate General for Environment (DG ENV),
the Directorate General for Regional Cohesion (DG
REGIO) and the Directorate General Joint Research
Centre (DG JRC). Execution of a part of this work
programme is entrusted to CESD Communautaire.
In the following chapters, the CESD approach to
contribute to an improvement of the situation is
CESD Communautaire established a work
programme on land use information (CESD LU
programme) in order to answer to Eurostat needs.
CESD Communautaire, a non-profit organisation,
was founded in 1989 by official statisticians of the
EU Member States under the auspices of Eurostat
with the objective to co-ordinate statistical co
operation and development programmes with Non
member countries of the European Union and to
assist the European Statistical System in developing
statistical methodologies.
The overall objective of the CESD LU programme is
to contribute to the improvement of the current
situation. Following a problem analysis the work