Land Use and Cover Change

LUCC was launched in 1994 as a Core Project of IGBP to address the question: How do human and biophysical forces affect land use and hence land cover, and what are the environmental and social impacts of this change?


The pace, magnitude and spatial reach of human alterations of the Earth's land surface are unprecedented. Land use and land cover change directly impacts biotic diversity worldwide, contributes to climate change, is the primary source of soil degradation, and, by altering ecosystem services, affects the ability of biological systems to support human needs. Such changes also determine, in part, the vulnerability of places and people to climatic, economic or socio-political perturbations. LUCC research addresses the problem of land use dynamics through comparative case study analysis, addresses land cover dynamics through empirical observations and diagnostic models, and extends the understanding of cause-use-cover dynamics through integrated regional and global modeling. LUCC was co-sponsored by IHDP

LUCC Objectives

  • To develop a fundamental understanding of the human and biophysical dynamics of land-use changes ad the impacts of these changes on land cover.
  • To develop robust and regionally sensitive global models of land-use/cover change with improved capacities to predict and project use/cover changes
  • To develop an understanding of land-use/cover dynamics through systematic and integrated case studies.
  • To assist in the development of a global land-use classification scheme LUCC was completed in 2005.

LUCC's science and the community associated with it are now contributing to the current Global Land Project (GLP), which also builds on the legacy of GCTE, another former IGBP Project.

The LUCC International Project office was first hosted by the Clark University, USA from 1994 to 1996, by the Institute Cartografic de Catalunya (ICC) in Barcelona, Spain (1997-1999) and finally by the Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium (2000-2005) with generous support from the Belgian Federal Science Policy Office.

LUCC Legacy

Land-Use and Land-Cover Change. Local processes and Global Impacts. Lambin, E.F. and H.J. Geist (Eds). The IGBP Series, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 2006, 222 pp. (A synthesis of LUCC science)