Representation of tree cover in global land cover products : Finland as a case study area

Titta Majasalmi*, Miina Rautiainen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Forest extent mapping is required for climate modeling and monitoring changes in ecosystem state. Different global land cover (LC) products employ simple tree cover (referred also as “forest cover” or even “vegetation cover”) definitions to differentiate forests from non-forests. Since 1990, a large number of forest extent maps have become available. Although many studies have compared forest extent data, they often use old data (i.e., around the year 2000). In this study, we assessed tree cover representations of three different annual, global LC products (MODIS VCF (MOD44B, Collection 6 (C6)), MCD12Q1 (C6), and CCI LC (v.2.1.1)) using the Finnish Multi-Source National Forest Inventory (MS-NFI) data for the year 2017. In addition, we present an intercomparison approach for analyzing spatial representations of coniferous and deciduous species. Intercomparison of different LC products is often overlooked due to challenges involved in non-standard and overlapping LC class definitions. Global LC products are used for monitoring changes in land use and land cover and modeling of surface fluxes. Given that LC is a major driver of global change through modifiers such as land surface albedo, more attention should be paid to spatial mapping of coniferous and deciduous species. Our results show that tree cover was either overestimated or underestimated depending on the LC product, and classification accuracy varied between 42 and 75%. Intercomparison of the LC products showed large differences in conifer and deciduous species spatial distributions. Spatial mapping of coniferous and deciduous tree covers was the best represented by the CCI LC product as compared with the reference MS-NFI data.

Original languageEnglish
Article number121
Number of pages19
JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Boreal
  • Canopy cover
  • CCI LC
  • Forest cover
  • MS-NFI


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