Copernicus high-resolution layers for land cover classification in Italy

The high-resolution layers (HRLs) are land cover maps produced for the entire Italian territory (approximately 30 million hectares) in 2012 by the European Environment Agency, aimed at monitoring soil imperviousness and natural cover, such as forest, grassland, wetland, and water surface, with a high spatial resolution of 20 m. This study presents the methodologies developed for the production, verification, and enhancement of the HRLs in Italy. The innovative approach is mainly based on (a) the use of available reference data for the enhancement process, (b) the reduction of the manual work of operators by using a semi-automatic approach, and (c) the overall increase in the cost-efficiency in relation to the production and updating of land cover maps. The results show the reliability of these methodologies in assessing and enhancing the quality of the HRLs. Finally, an integration of the individual layers, represented by the HRLs, was performed in order to produce a National High-Resolution Land Cover map.