Image from Land Cover Map 1990
Part of Scotland in Land Cover Map 1990

The first digital land cover map for Great Britain derived from satellite imagery is the Land Cover Map of Great Britain 1990 (LCM1990). This is a 25m x 25m pixel land cover product describing land cover in 1990. It was produced by automated classification techniques where each pixel is assigned to a land cover class based upon its spectral characteristics.


The Land Cover Map of Great Britain 1990 was the first complete map of the land cover of Great Britain to be produced since the 1960s. It was also the first of three land cover maps to be produced by what is now the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, the later maps being produced in 2000 and 2007.

LCM1990 was produced using supervised maximum likelihood classifications of Landsat Thematic Mapper data (Fuller et al 1994a). The map, based on a 25m grid, records 25 cover types, consisting of sea and inland water, beaches and bare ground, developed and arable land, and 18 types of semi-natural vegetation.

Main uses

LCM1990 data has been used by licensees in pursuit of academic, policy-related and commercial interests in the following fields:

  • Atmosphere and climate
  • Water and catchments
  • Marine and coastal
  • Ecology and conservation
  • Impact assessment
  • Health and hazards
  • Agriculture
  • Landscape planning
  • Urban studies
  • Statistics, information and maps
  • Education and publicity

Land Cover Map 1990: Technical details

LCM1990 is a raster product available in different resolutions. A 25x25m raster gives the most likely land cover class for each pixel. Four freely available 1x1km raster products summarise the 25x25m raster. Table 1 lists the land cover classes. Metadata for the LCM1990 raster formats are available in Table 2 and Table 3.

Raster data format:

  • Scale - 25m and 1km pixel size
  • Supply Format - GeoTiff
  • Coverage - GB

Obtaining Land Cover Map 1990

Further information

Please see the documentation and samples linked below.

Download samples of CEH data products