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International cooperation and technology transfer
Fras, Mojca Kosmatin

in MS Access. In 1998 it has been decided to
enlarge the scope of the meta database to regional
systems and to the accession countries.
In addition to that, meta data on information systems
on landscapes will also be introduced. For that
purpose the database structure will need to be
reviewed and improved. Access for the wider public
via the Internet will be subject of discussion with
Eurostat that is the owner of the database.
2.2 Methodological studies
Studies on statistical methodology contribute to the
evolution and the development of the European
statistical system. In this respect, statistical methods
for the use of new tools in statistics, such as remote
sensing and geographic information system, and for
harmonisation of data from the Member States
regarding land use information are subjects of
2.2.1 The Statistical framework for Remote
Sensing Applications in Statistics
The use of remote sensing imagery as a source of
geographic and statistical information requires
adopting a work programme that respects a
coherent statistical scheme. The following
components are required: a statistical nomenclature
of land cover and use, clear guidelines and
specifications for fields of observation, units of
observation, methods of observation and methods
of classification.
CESD LU has developed such a framework for the
account of Eurostat. This framework served in pilot
projects as part of the technical Terms of Reference
for the contractors carrying out these projects. It
includes a pilot nomenclature entitled CLUSTERS
(Classification for Land Use STatistics - Eurostat
Remote Sensing programme). The nomenclature
respects the principles of thematic coherence (one
class of the classification system corresponds to
one type of land use and one type of land use can
only be put into a single class, no mixed classes),
consistency of scale (the user must be able to
aggregate or desegregate results according to the
required analysis - work on different scales /
restitution units), spatial coherence (compatibility
over all the area of interest) and consistency over
time (taking stocks, not flows to enable change
detection over time).
2.2.2 Study on a reference land use
In the framework of this study, carried out for the
account of the FAO, the concepts and the existing
approaches of land use information systems have
been described followed by a preliminary design of
a reference land use classification system
containing land use classes defined by the
combination of a set of independent diagnostic
attributes, so-called classifiers. The study
recommends to develop a complete land use
classification based on the functional approach
(socio-economic purpose) and to complete the
already established 'Land Cover Classification
System' of the FAO (mapping land cover based on
EO data) with a sampling approach on land use.
2.2.3 Indicators on Landscape fragmentation in
The potential and the limitations of the existing data
may be analysed best through the use of the data.
The study, carried out in the framework of a
collaboration between Eurostat, DG AGRI and the
DG JRC and the EEA, exploits the only existing
geographic land cover / land use database covering
(nearly) all Europe, the CORINE Land Cover
database, for the calculation of fragmentation
indices to analyse the structure of landscapes in
Europe. Among the different technical points
discussed (definition, comparison and use of
indexes) the experiment raises the problem of the
choice of the restitution units and its effect on results
(NUTS regions, ‘natural’ landscape units like
‘Naturraume’ in Germany) while a solution based on
a regular moving window grid is tested. Beyond the
results, limitations of CORINE Land Cover data are
stressed and particularly those concerning the
definition of the nomenclature (mixed classes due to
both, the size of the minimum mapping unit and the
existence of intrinsically mixed areas on the earth
surface) and the temporal heterogeneity of the
satellite images used to build the database.
Because of their impacts on results, it appears as
obvious that the definition and the elaboration of a
homogeneous and coherent database at European
level are of importance.
2.3 Pilot projects
Pilot project activities involving the application of
earth observation data for statistical purposes help
to demonstrate the potential of this type of
information source but also its limitations. CESD LU
managed pilot projects for the account of Eurostat,
national statistical services and local authorities that
means users of the data. The technical work was
carried out in most cases by the private sector. The
subjects of the projects varied from purposes in
agriculture or urban statistics to regional planning
and environmental monitoring.
The following map provides an overview of the
project sites.
The applications for different purposes were always
based on the retrieval of land cover and land use
information using satellite imagery and other
existing data (such as Digital Terrain Models, digital
maps e.g. on infrastructure, land use planning etc.)
according to the statistical framework mentioned