Swiss Land Use Statistics

Overview of the 2004 classification and the available data variables in the standard, land cover and land use sub-classifications.

Land use statistics surveys of 1979/85, 1992/97, 2004/09 and 2013/18

In contrast to the land use statistics 1972, the more recent random sample land use surveys are based on a point sample grid of 100 m spacing composed of regularly updated, superimposed aerial images of a fixed position. Whereas for the first two survey cycles, traditional, analogue aerial photographs were evaluated by a team of analysts using stereoscopes, evaluation of the third survey cycle was based on digital, scanned aerial images using photogrammetric workstations enabling 3D imaging. These methodological innovations led not only to the direct recording of data and the immediate plausibilisation of each point evaluated in the system, they also meant that a new, more up-to-date data set could be produced as well as revising the results from previous surveys.

Structure of the classification 2004

Starting with the survey cycle 2004/09, data on land cover and land use were collected separately, so that each sample point has two codes, which can be evaluated individually (for "cover" or "use") but also in almost any combination. In parallel with the survey on the current situation of land cover and use, the previous surveys from 1979/85 and 1992/97 have been updated in line with the new classification, with consistent distinction made between land use and cover, so that today an uninterrupted time series is available for comparison without restriction. Consequently, the new 2004 classification is composed of the following thematic classifications:

  • The standard classification NOAS04 includes 72 basic categories combining cover and use, which ensure to a large extent comparability with the older 1992 classification.
  • The land cover classification NOLC04 represents the codes registered as land cover and comprises 27 basic categories.
  • The land use classification NOLU04 is devoted exclusively to land use in 46 basic categories.

Hierarchical levels of the classification 2004

As before, statistical reliability (significance) can be improved by grouping the basic categories together to form a smaller number of aggregated groups. For this reason, the FSO makes available not only geodata with all basic categories, but also results for 17 and 27 groups from the standard classification as well as 10 groups from the land use classification.

Land use and the standard categories can also be condensed even more into four main areas and the land cover categories into six. Details of the categories and aggregations of these classifications as well as of the geodata available can be found on the websites dedicated to each of the sub-classifications (see above links).


Federal statistical office Section Geoinformation
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CH-2010 Neuchâtel
+41 58 463 68 35

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