The UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology has released updated Land Cover Maps, which depict broad habitats across our landscape based on high-resolution satellite imagery.

The maps, representing UK land cover for the years 2022 and 2023, are the latest products in our time series, which goes back more than 30 years. Each comprises a suite of data products in vector and raster format, and at a variety of resolutions.

Through either pixels or land parcels, the maps depict broad habitats including grasslands, arable, water, woodlands, urban and suburban areas across the length and breadth of the country. 

In the highest resolution map, in 10m raster format, each pixel represents a 10-metre square of land, which means one can identify narrow features of the landscape such as small woodland patches or waterways.

The maps, using data from 2022 and 2023, are the 10th and 11th in the time series. They follow products representing land cover in 1990, 2000, 2007, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021.

The UKCEH Land Cover Maps are used by environmental charities, consultancies and government departments. They can be combined with other data to assess the effect of a crop on carbon or biodiversity, guiding decisions on land management.

In a project for WWF and Tesco, UKCEH overlaid carbon flux data on the Land Cover Maps to quantify the effects of the cultivation of vegetables on peatland soils. UKCEH also produced a time series of maps for the then Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to assist with tracking greenhouse gas emissions over time to identify sources and sinks of carbon.

The UKCEH Land Cover Maps are developed through the UK-SCAPE programme, thanks to National Capability funding from the Natural Environment Research Council, part of UK Research and Innovation. 

To download datasets from the Land Cover Map series, see the Environmental Information Data Centre website