UKCEH Land Cover Maps

Land Cover Map of UK 2021 with key to land cover classes

The UKCEH Land Cover Maps (LCMs) map UK land cover. They do this by describing the physical material on the surface of the United Kingdom providing an uninterrupted national dataset of land cover classes from grassland, woodland and fresh water to urban and suburban built-up areas. 

UKCEH has a long history of using satellite imagery to map land cover from the first national Land Cover Map of Great Britain in 1990 to the current production of annual Land Cover Maps and land cover change data.

The UKCEH land cover classes are based on UK Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) Broad Habitats (Jackson, 2000).

Main users

Government, researchers, councils, charities, consultancies and utility companies successfully use Land Cover Maps for a wide range of applications in pursuit of academic, policy-related and commercial interests in the following areas:

Atmosphere and climate Agriculture and forestry
Water and catchments Landscape planning
Ecosystem service assessment Telecommunications
Marine and coastal Urban planning and studies
Ecology and conservation Statistics, information and maps
Impact assessment Flood risk modelling
Health and hazards Carbon accounting

Land Cover Map series

Latest release: Land Cover Map 2023

  • Land Cover Map 2023 (LCM2023) datasets describe the UK land surface in 2023. These were produced by classifying satellite images from 2023. LCM2023 includes four datasets each for Great Britain and Northern Ireland: 10m classified pixel dataset; 25m pixel rasterised land parcel dataset; land parcel datasets; and 1km summary raster products.

Also available

Further information on the Land Cover Map Series is found at the Environmental Information Data Centre.

The series is complemented by UKCEH Land Cover® plus: Crops, as well as Land Cover plus: Fertilisers and Land Cover Plus: Pesticides.


Land Cover Maps are available in a number of formats to suit users’ requirements:

  • Vector Land Parcels
  • 25m Raster
  • 20m Raster – available for LCM2017, 2018 and 2019 only
  • 10m Raster – available for LCM2020, 2021, 2022 and 2023 only
  • 1km Raster  - available for LCM1990, 2000, 2007, 2015, and 2017-2023.

The level of spatial detail in these is illustrated below:

Set of map images showing comparison in detail between different Land Cover Maps
Comparison of the level of spatial detail in the vector data set, 25m raster data set and 1km dominant cover raster data set for an area ~ 35km x 35km (top images) and ~ 6km x 6km (lower images). (LCM2015 is used for illustrative purposes). © UKCEH 2017. © Crown Copyright 2007. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100017572.

Vector Land Parcels: Each polygon represents a parcel of land and has attributes describing land cover and metadata outlining how this information was derived. Regarding scale, the Minimum Mappable Unit for land cover parcels is 0.5ha.

Raster: The raster gives the most likely UK Biodiversity Action Plan Broad Habitat for each pixel (10m, 20m, 25m or 1km).

Obtaining UKCEH's Land Cover Maps

Please contact the UKCEH Data Licensing Team using our Data Request Form or emailing Spatial Data for more information.

The way we license our Land Cover Maps depends upon how the dataset will be used. Choose your intended usage:


Upcoming Land Cover Map developments

In 2020 the first Land Cover Change dataset was released, spanning the 25 years between 1990 and 2015. Work is currently in progress (funded by UK-SCAPE and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) to develop new Land Cover Map data between 1990 and 2015 to provide better information on the dynamics of land cover change in the UK.


Land cover change

We need to understand how the UK's land surface is being used, so we can monitor the impact of environmental changes and plan environmental improvements.

Case studies: Using land cover map (LCM2007 examples)

Sample files

GIS layer files

GIS layer files provide the correct symbology so helping to make sense of the data when it is viewed in a Geographic Information System (GIS). Please download the zip file below for the correct layer files for each of the Land Cover Maps. This also contains a file with a colour palette for users with red-green colour vision deficiency.