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Land Cover: to standardise or not to standardise? Comment on 'Evolving standards in land cover characterization' by Herold et al.

Comber, A. J.; Fisher, P. F.; Wadsworth, R. A.. 2007 Land Cover: to standardise or not to standardise? Comment on 'Evolving standards in land cover characterization' by Herold et al. Journal of Land Use Science, 2 (4). 287-291. 10.1080/17474230701786000

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Abstract/Summary

A recent article advocated the adoption of a single standard for all land cover classifications. The authors argued that variations in classifications were problematic, standards solve problems related to classification heterogeneity and land land cover is the fundamental land variable. This letter challenges these arguments: 1) methods exist for integrating disparate data, many based around data semantics. 2) standards are themselves problematic as they are frequently revised (e.g. soils) and because they always lag behind current activities cannot represent the depth of knowledge within a community such as land cover; 3) scientists working in other disciplines may view land cover as the elemental variable driving many other processes and they construct land cover in a very different way. This letter argues that as most geographical data and especially land cover is a socially mediated construct (there are no agreed fundamental units), fixing a specific conceptualization of land cover into the 'aspic' of a formal standard does not represent a scientific advance.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1080/17474230701786000
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Environmental Informatics
CEH Sections: Watkins (to March 2011)
ISSN: 1747-4248
Additional Keywords: land cover, standards, semantics
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Earth Sciences
Data and Information
Date made live: 13 Feb 2008 09:19
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/2293

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