Land Cover Scotland (LCS) 1988


Land Cover Scotland (LCS) 1988
Alternate title
Date ( Creation )
Date ( Publication )
Identifier / SG_LandCoverScotland_1988

Land Cover Scotland (LCS) 1988 was the first ever national (air-photo) census of land cover in Scotland to describe the principal features and characteristics of the countryside. It was produced by The Macaulay Land Use Research Institute (now the James Hutton Institute) on behalf of Scottish Government to assist in the development and monitoring of policies affecting the state of the Scottish countryside. It was intended that the 1988 LCS be used as a baseline for monitoring change. The classification system allows for 126 land cover types to be identified as point, line or area features. An important aspect of the classification system is that it allows for mosaics of the land cover types to be identified, where the pattern of cover types was so complex that individual types could not, at the selected interpretation scale, be separated. Over 1300 mosaics are identified in the LCS dataset.


Point of contact

The James Hutton Institute
AB15 8QH
United Kingdom
GEMET - INSPIRE themes, version 1.0 ( Theme )
  • Land cover
IPVS - Integrated Public Sector Vocabulary version 2
  • Land and premisesCountryside
Other constraints
No limitations on public access
Use limitation
Open Government Licence
Use limitation
The following attribution statement must be used to acknowledge the source of the information: Copyright Scottish Government, contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right (insert year)
Topic category
  • Environment
Geographic identifier

ISO 3166-2
Date ( Revision )

Supplemental Information
Reference system identifier
EPSG / OSGB 1936 / British National Grid (EPSG:27700) / 7.4

Distribution format
  • WMS ( 1.3.0 )

  • WFS ( 2.0.0 )

  • ESRI REST ( 1.0 )

  • ESRI Shapefile ( 1.0 )

The LCS dataset was created by defining a hierarchical land cover classification followed by the interpretation of aerial imagery to identify both single feature and mosaics of different land cover types. The classification system was developed specifically to provide information on semi-natural cover features, so that the greatest detail (at the lowest level in the hierarchy) relates to natural and management features within these cover types. LCS88 has 126 major classes. This was felt necessary to preserve the detail of the ground cover, especially in the upland or moorland areas – which cover some 80% of the land area. Mosaics, consisting of a dominant and subdominant class, were also permitted where the interpreter was unable to separate out different land covers (for instance as part of heather cycling and regeneration, patches of grass establish and then become recolonised by the heather). Some of the mosaics were very region specific and this gave rise to some 1300 classes, and 969 of them in total covered only 1% of the country. Medium scale air photography was flown for the whole of Scotland and interpreted by former soil surveyors to obtain a census map of land cover. Photos were viewed through a stereoscope, and using an acetate overlay features were drawn by hand for points, lines and areas. Area features were identified where they are greater than 10 hectares for semi-natural ground vegetation, greater than 5 hectares for built-up land, or greater than 2 hectares for woodland. A code was allocated to each feature following the agreed classification system. This information was then converted to a computer readable form by digitising against OS Pathfinder maps (1:25,000) in GIS. Lastly, the digitised data was compared to conditions on the ground to produce accuracy assessments.


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7dfaf8ce-2123-4eec-8a16-2e85fab7077d metadataInXML
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Point of contact