There are many land cover products available to the country’s conservation community, with multiple federal agencies producing their own products. Each of these agencies uses separate methodologies and distinct classification schemes tailored to varying audiences. The differences in methodologies and classification schemes often result in conflicts and inconsistencies among land cover products sharing overlapping geographies.
When NOAA and the U.S. Forest Service were interested in updating their data for the U.S. territory of Guam, they decided to work together on the project, thereby addressing potential conflicts in their land cover products. The partnership created one mapping effort resulting in two seamless land cover mapping products aimed at serving the needs of both the forestry and coastal management communities. Each agency was able to lend its unique expertise in land cover mapping, resulting in refined classifications in the forestry and coastal zones. Additionally, each agency reduced its operating costs by sharing data and resources.
The more detailed land cover classification scheme was well received by its intended users, which included NOAA and Forest Service audiences. The new products enabled diverse analyses, ranging from coastal zone permitting to identifying the preferred nesting habitats for Guam’s native bird species. Each land cover product matched the other seamlessly, resulting in less confusion and indecision about which might be best. All of these positive outcomes were delivered at a lower cost than previous land cover mapping efforts.