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The international land-cover community has been working with GEO since 2005 to build the foundations for land-cover observations as an integral part of a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS). The Group on Earth Observation (GEO) has provided the platform to elevate the societal relevance of land cover monitoring and helped to link a diverse set of global, regional, and national activities. A dedicated 2007-2009 GEO work plan task has resulted in achievements on the strategic and implementation levels. Integrated Global Observations of the Land (IGOL), the land theme of the Integrated Global Observation Strategy (IGOS), has been approved and is now in the process of transition into GEO implementation. New global land-cover maps at moderate spatial resolutions (i.e., GLOBCOVER) are being produced using guidelines and standards of the international community. The Middecadal Global Landsat Survey for 2005-2006 is extending previous 1990 and 2000 efforts for global, high-quality Landsat data. Despite this progress, essential challenges for building a sustained global land-cover-observing system remain, including: international cooperation on the continuity of global observations; ensuring consistency in land monitoring approaches; community engagement and country participation in mapping activities; commitment to ongoing quality assurance and validation; and regional networking and capacity building.
Date of Publication: Sept. 2008