Land cover

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Africa Groundwater Atlas >> Additional resources >> Supporting environmental information >> Land Cover

Please cite page as: Africa Groundwater Atlas. 2019. Land cover. British Geological Survey. Accessed [date you accessed the information]. Weblink.

Land cover across Africa

Maps of land cover for each country in Africa in this Atlas have been extracted from the Africa-wide Global Land Cover map GlobCover Version 2.3, 2009, produced and owned by the European Space Agency (ESA) as part of the Globcover Project (, led by MEDIAS-France/POSTEL) ( The original ESA GlobCover Version 2.3, 2009 is available to download at

For the GlobCover Project, satellite image data were collected from Dec 2004 to June 2006 from MERIS FR time series, at 300 m cell resolution, and 22 land classes defined as per the UN Land Cover Classification System (LCCS).

If you reproduce any of the land cover maps from this Atlas, please cite both the Africa Groundwater Atlas and the ESA (GlobCover 2.3, 2009).

Land cover classification for Africa. European Space Agency GlobCover 2.3, 2009
Land cover classification legend
1 Post-flooding or irrigated croplands (or aquatic)
2 Rain-fed croplands
3 Mosaic cropland (50-70%) / vegetation (grassland/shrubland/forest) (20-50%)
4 Mosaic vegetation (grassland/shrubland/forest) (50-70%) / cropland (20-50%)
5 Closed to open (>15%) broadleaved evergreen or semi-deciduous forest (>5 m)
6 Closed (>40%) broadleaved deciduous forest (>5 m)
7 Open (15-40%) broadleaved deciduous forest/woodland (>5 m)
8 Closed (>40%) needle-leaved evergreen forest (>5 m)
9 Open (15-40%) needle-leaved deciduous or evergreen forest (>5 m)
10 Closed to open (>15%) mixed broadleaved and needle-leaved forest (>5 m)
11 Mosaic forest or shrubland (50-70%) / grassland (20-50%)
12 Mosaic grassland (50-70%) / forest or shrubland (20-50%)
13 Closed to open (>15%) (broadleaved or needle-leaved, evergreen or deciduous) shrubland (<5 m)
14 Closed to open (>15%) herbaceous vegetation (grassland, savannas or lichens/mosses)
15 Sparse (<15%) vegetation
16 Closed to open (>15%) broadleaved forest regularly flooded (semi-permanently or temporarily) - fresh or brackish water
17 Closed (>40%) broadleaved forest or shrubland permanently flooded - saline or brackish water
18 Closed to open (>15%) grassland or woody vegetation on regularly flooded or waterlogged soil - fresh, brackish or saline water
19 Artificial surfaces and associated areas (urban areas >50%)
20 Bare areas
21 Water bodies
22 Permanent snow and ice
23 No data (burnt area, clouds...)

Reprocessed land cover map

A reprocessed version of the ESA land cover map has been produced for Africa by the Global Land Cover Network. This dataset has been topologically corrected and provides more detailed LCCS classes. It is available to download as a vector-based (.shp) GIS-enabled file from the FAO's Geonetwork metadata catalogue.

Africa Groundwater Atlas >> Additional resources >> Supporting environmental information >> Land Cover