Land Cover Map

Land Cover Map 2015 (LCM2015) is the latest land cover map to be produced by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. It provides land cover information for the entire UK based on the Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) Broad Habitats which are widely used in monitoring and reporting on our countryside. LCM2015 has been derived from satellite images, digital cartography, ground reference data and ancillary datasets.

Why do we need a Land Cover Map?

At a time when our land surface is under ever-increasing pressure, reliable information on land cover is essential. A growing population of over 61 million people needs space to live, to work, space for leisure and recreation, places to bury or process waste, a transport network, raw materials for infra-structure and land for crops. Intensification of agriculture, driven by increasing demand for food and biofuels, have squeezed wildlife into marginal and fragmented habitats. The ecosystems and the services that these provide such as clean water and insects to pollinate our crops are therefore under pressure too. The requirements of and the demands that we place on our terrestrial environment are often conflicting and need to be balanced to maintain and enhance our quality of life.

To address these issues and plan for the future we need to know what we have on our land surface and where it is. LCM2015 provides this information. 


LCM2015 updates the 2007 Land Cover Map (LCM2007) and uses an updated version of the LCM2007 spatial framework. LCM2015, like LCM2007 before it, is therefore constructed from polygons that reflect real-world boundaries. This increases both its ease of interpretation for users and also its compatibility with other geospatial data sets.  Cartographic boundaries accurately delineate real-world land cover objects (e.g. lakes, fields, settlements, industrial areas, semi-natural areas etc.). 


Previous CEH land cover maps, LCM1990, LCM2000 and LCM2007 have been successfully used by government departments and agencies throughout the UK, county councils, charities and commissions and also environmental management bodies. In conjunction with other data, LCM will have many applications in, for example, the following areas:

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


LCM2015 data products

LCM2015 and its predecessors (LCM1990, LCM2000 & LCM2007) are available in a range of data formats and spatial resolutions to suit different user requirements:

  • The most detailed LCM2015 data is supplied as a vector product with a minimum mappable unit of 0.5ha and a minimum feature width of 20m. Each polygon represents a parcel of land and has attributes describing land cover and metadata describing how this information was derived.
  • Five raster products simplify the LCM2015 information. A 25x25m product gives the most likely Broad Habitat for each polygon. Four freely available products summarise the 25x25m raster at the 1x1km level.

Please click here for further information on LCM2015 products.

Accessing LCM2015 data products

All LCM products can be obtained from CEH under licence for academic, non-commercial and commercial use. Some products are free of charge for non-commercial use via the CEH Environmental Information Platform (EIP) and others can be obtained following the submission of an on-line request form. Web Mapping Services (WMS) are also provided to view selected LCM products via the EIP.

Please click here for information on how to access the LCM products.

Further information: