Decision Support Tools

Regional Land Cover Monitoring System

This system guides users in applying peer-reviewed methods and cloud computing power to produce a wide variety of high-quality land cover information products that can be updated regularly and consistently.

Regional Land Cover Monitoring System

Monitoring land cover and land use change is important for land resource planning, maintaining ecosystem services, and for building  resilience to climate change. However, in many cases, maps are produced and updated only infrequently and are often not accompanied by appropriate accuracy assessment information and documentation.

Note: This is version 1.0 of the RLCMS tool, which is undergoing continuous development and refinement. Advanced versions will be made available on this website. 

Application Purpose

The purpose of this system is to facilitate the  the production of custom, high-quality land cover information products to serve a variety of policy, planning, management, and reporting needs of regional and national institutions in the Lower Mekong Region. The system leverages the power of Google Earth Engine and relies in most cases on  field observations and the interpretation of high resolution imagery by stakeholders relevant to a given project. Once the system has been customized to produce a given product or set of products, these can be updated regularly in a structured way to serve ongoing monitoring needs.

Application Uses

A broad consortium of co-production partner institutions have used the system to develop a series of annual land cover maps with a multi-purpose typology for the period 2000-2016. This regional set of products was used as a target for both developing the system itself and as a proof of concept. Partners are now leveraging the system for annual greenhouse gas emissions reporting under their UNFCCC commitments and for mapping the extent and timing of rice production in Vietnam to facilitate drought risk assessment and more effective water allocation decisions.

Geographic Region
Lower Mekong
  • US Forest Service - Geospatial Technology and Applications Center
  • University of San Francisco
  • NASA Applied Sciences Program
  • Google
  • University of Maryland (UMD)
  • Cambodia: General Department of Administration for Nature Conservation and Protection (GDANCP/ MOE),
  • Lao PDR: Forest Inventory and Planning Division (FIPD/MAF)
  • Myanmar: Forest Department of Myanmar (FD/MONREC)
  • Vietnam:  Forest Inventory and Planning Institute (FIPI/MARD), National Institute for Agriculture Planning and Projection (NIAPP/MARD), National Remote Sensing Department (NRSD/MONRE)
  • Forestry/agricultural ministries/departments in Mekong region
  • International and local NGOs
  • Agencies responsible for greenhouse gas emissions reporting
Earth Observations and NASA Products Used
  • Landsat 7 and 8 imagery
  • Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) imagery
  • Derived biophysical indices(e.g. NDVI, impervious cover, surface water, etc.)
  • WorldView and other high-resolution satellite imagery
  • Google Earth Engine