Land Cover Vision

Science Center Objects

The goal of the GAP/LANDFIRE National Terrestrial Ecosystems 2011 data is to provide accurate, seamless data on the vegetation and land cover of the United States. The map legend based on NatureServe’s ecological system classification scheme provides detailed information on the vegetation types at a plant community level. 

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Vegetation data at this level of detail can provide information on wildlife habitat distribution patterns and conservation assessments. The data can also serve as input into models predicting hydrologic, fire, and climatic processes. The GAP/LANDFIRE National Terrestrial Ecosystems 2011 data have been cross-walked from Ecological Systems to the six highest levels of the United States National Vegetation Classification System (USNVC), allowing users to display the data at seven levels of thematic detail.


The GAP/LANDFIRE National Terrestrial Ecosystems 2011 is an update of the National Gap Analysis Project Land Cover Data – Version 2.2 for the conterminous U.S. The dataset represents a highly thematically detailed land cover map of the United States. The map legend includes types described by NatureServe’s Ecological Systems Classification (Comer et al. 2003) as well as land use classes described in the National Land Cover Dataset 2011 (Homer et al. 2015).

The Gap Analysis Project has been working directly with LANDFIRE for several years to develop a strategy toward a 2016 remap of the vegetation for the nation. Once the remap is completed, the biennial updates will provide a time series of detailed vegetation data that will allow for analysis of vegetation changes over time, a valuable resource for studies on global climate change, fire dynamics, and wildlife management. Work on 2016 remap is ongoing. Check the LANDFIRE website for the latest on the production schedule

Comer, P., D. Faber-Langendoen, R. Evans, S. Gawler, C. Josse, G. Kittel, S. Menard, S. Pyne, M. Reid, K. Schulz, K. Snow and, J. Teague, 2003. Ecological systems of the United States: A working classification of U.S. terrestrial systems. NatureServe, Arlington, Virginia.

Homer, C.G., J. A. Dewitz, L. Yang, S. Jin, P. Danielson, G. Xian, J. Coulston, N. D. Herold, J. D. Wickham, and K. Megown. 2015. Completion of the 2011 National Land Cover Database for the conterminous United States-Representing a decade of land cover change information. Photogrammetric Engineering and Remote Sensing, v. 81, no. 5, p. 345-354.

Nelson et al. 2013: Nelson , K. J., J. Connot, B. Peterson, J. J. Picotte. 2013.

Current Status 

GAP/LANDFIRE National Terrestrial Ecosystems 2011 represents ground conditions and is based on an update of the 2001 era detailed land cover map using 2011 National Land Cover Dataset and 2010 LANDFIRE Disturbance data. The Alaska data is based on LANDFIRE’s update to reflect 2012 conditions. Data for Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands land cover are based on satellite imagery acquired around 2001.