A globally relevant change taxonomy and evidence-based change framework for land monitoring

Richard M. Lucas*, Sophia German, Graciela Metternicht, Rebecca K. Schmidt, Christopher J. Owers, Suzanne M. Prober, Anna E. Richards, Sally Tetreault-Campbell, Kristen J. Williams, Norman Mueller, Belle Tissott, Sean M.T. Chua, Alison Cowood, Terry Hills, Dayani Gunawardana, Alexis McIntyre, Sebastien Chognard, Clive Hurford, Carole Planque, Suvarna PunalekarDaniel Clewley, Ruth Sonnenschein, Nicholas J. Murray, Ioannis Manakos, Palma Blonda, Kate Owers, Stephen Roxburgh, Heather Kay, Peter Bunting, Claire Horton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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A globally relevant and standardized taxonomy and framework for consistently describing land cover change based on evidence is presented, which makes use of structured land cover taxonomies and is underpinned by the Driver-Pressure-State-Impact-Response (DPSIR) framework. The Global Change Taxonomy currently lists 246 classes based on the notation ‘impact (pressure)’, with this encompassing the consequence of observed change and associated reason(s), and uses scale-independent terms that factor in time. Evidence for different impacts is gathered through temporal comparison (e.g., days, decades apart) of land cover classes constructed and described from Environmental Descriptors (EDs; state indicators) with pre-defined measurement units (e.g., m, %) or categories (e.g., species type). Evidence for pressures, whether abiotic, biotic or human-influenced, is similarly accumulated, but EDs often differ from those used to determine impacts. Each impact and pressure term is defined separately, allowing flexible combination into ‘impact (pressure)’ categories, and all are listed in an openly accessible glossary to ensure consistent use and common understanding. The taxonomy and framework are globally relevant and can reference EDs quantified on the ground, retrieved/classified remotely (from ground-based, airborne or spaceborne sensors) or predicted through modelling. By providing capacity to more consistently describe change processes—including land degradation, desertification and ecosystem restoration—the overall framework addresses a wide and diverse range of local to international needs including those relevant to policy, socioeconomics and land management. Actions in response to impacts and pressures and monitoring towards targets are also supported to assist future planning, including impact mitigation actions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6293-6317
Number of pages25
JournalGlobal Change Biology
Issue number21
Early online date01 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - 02 Oct 2022


  • change
  • climate
  • Earth observations
  • economy
  • impacts
  • land cover
  • policy
  • pressures


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