National land cover 2020 data products for South Africa now available

Information from the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment

South Africa’s Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment has released the latest national land cover products – the 2020 South African National Land-Cover dataset and Land Cover Change dataset on 29 June 2021.

The following is available for download:

  • South African National Land Cover (SANLC) 2020
  • SANLC 2020 Change Assessment Datasets
  • New SANLC 2018, Computer Automated Land Cover (CALC)
  • New SANLC 2014 and 2018 Change Assessment Datasets, CALC

To monitor and manage landscape changes, it is necessary to understand both where change has occurred, as well as what has changed. The land cover dataset provides comprehensive, spatially detailed, national coverage information on landscape characteristics. It is therefore a crucial reference dataset that informs a wide variety of applications, from environmental planning and protection, to economic development, compliance monitoring, enforcement, and strategic decision-making.

The 2020 South African National Land-Cover (SANLC) dataset and all associated change assessments were generated using the Computer Automated Land-Cover (CALC) system, which was developed to create automated land-cover datasets, accuracy assessments and change detection between comparable land-cover datasets with supporting reports and metadata.

The dataset, generated from 20 m multi-seasonal Sentinel-2 satellite imagery, has an overall accuracy of 85,47%. Like the SANLC 2018 dataset, the latest land cover dataset contains 73 classes of information and is comparable with the 1990 and 2013-14 South African National Land-Cover datasets.

The 20 class change legend is a simplified, class amalgamated version of the 73-class legend, and facilitates change analysis and reporting at 30 m resolution (the same as 1990 / 2013-14 SANLC data content). For the change assessment products, the CALC system generates both digital GIS change maps, reports and spreadsheet-based change statistics for pairs of SANLC datasets, e.g. 1990 vs 2018, 2013/14 vs 2020 etc.

The South African Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment is a contributing custodian of the Land-Cover dataset. The department uses the datasets in its own work, including for protected area monitoring, as inputs into carbon mapping, for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and to track erosion, among other uses.

Find more info, or download the data.

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