Land Cover Mapping

Elyna Grapstein studied sustainability at Better Farm in September of 2012 before going on to study at SUNY-ESF's ranger school in Wanakena, N.Y. While there, her projects have included the one we're showcasing above that depicts land-cover types on Better Farm's property. 

Land cover refers literally to that which covers physical land on a property. While bare rock or bare soil describes the land itself, land cover might be comprised of grass land, recreation area, or lawn. Here's more information from the Natural Resources Management and Environment Department:

Land cover is the observed (bio)physical cover on the earth's surface. When considering land cover in a very pure and strict sense it should be confined to describe vegetation and man-made features. It is disputable whether water surfaces are real land cover. However, in practise, the scientific community usually describes those aspects under the term land cover.

Land use is characterized by the arrangements, activities and inputs people undertake in a certain land cover type to produce, change or maintain it. Definition of land use in this way establishes a direct link between land cover and the actions of people in their environment.
The following examples are a further illustration of the above definitions:
  • "grassland" is a cover term, while "rangeland" or "tennis court" refer to the use of a grass cover; and
  • "recreation area" is a land use term that may be applicable to different land cover types: for instance sandy surfaces like a beach; a built-up area like a pleasure park; woodlands; etc.
The advantages to creating maps like this can help with understanding water-flow dynamics on a property, ideal planting conditions, landscape potential, and placement of outbuildings or other structures. Cover maps are fundamental spacial components of understanding a property or land mass when studying biodynamics, flora and fauna, and the general design of a landscape.

Many thanks to Elyna Grapstein for sharing this project with us.

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.