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2003 Florida Vegetation and Land Cover

In 2004, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) completed an updated digital vegetation and land cover dataset, or a collection of information, for the state of Florida. The final statewide digital dataset contains 43 vegetation and land cover types, including 26 natural and semi-natural vegetation types, 16 types of disturbed lands (such as agriculture, urban, and mining), and one water class.

We used the Landsat Enhanced Thematic Mapper+ (ETM+) satellite imagery from 2003 to map Florida vegetation and land cover. All classification was conducted in ArcView using the Image Analysis extension. Unsupervised classifications were performed on each entire Landsat ETM+ scene. We used a series of repetitive steps, visually checking each spectral class, or image from a specific spectrum, against the Landsat ETM+ imagery as well as ancillary datasets. Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) ratio bands were created for each scene. The NDVI provided a measure of vegetation density that was used to aid in class discrimination.

The land cover classifications were grouped into an expanded set of categories based on the classification presented by Davis (1967) and Hartman (1992), with additional categories based on several FLUCCS classes. The specific plant communities mapped were based on: (1) keeping the base categories the same as the earlier land cover map; (2) the ability to classify communities accurately using satellite data, image classification techniques, and available software; (3) the need to meet the project timeline; and (4) the importance of various communities to wildlife species.

The 2003 vegetation and land cover data was used to measure land use changes over a 14-18 year period. We compared the 2003 data with an earlier digital dataset derived from 1985-89 LandSat imagery. Since this earlier dataset was created, Florida's population has grown from 12.9 million to an estimated 17.4 million residents in 2004, and recent information indicates that almost 80 million tourists visited Florida in 2004. The large numbers of new residents and tourists have resulted in conversion of both natural and disturbed areas of the Florida landscape to more intensive human uses. Acreage of natural and semi-natural cover types converted to agricultural uses and urban/developed uses were calculated. About 611,845 ha of natural and semi-natural cover types were converted to urban or other developed uses and 703,292 ha were converted to agricultural uses. About 355,437 ha of agricultural and pasture lands were converted to urban or developed uses over this 14-18 year period.


Data and Documentation:

Download the Florida Vegetation and Land Cover Data final report and methods derived from 2003 Landsat ETM+ Imagery. This file is a detailed report of the methods used to create the vegetation and land cover map.

Download the Descriptions of Vegetation and Land Cover Types. This file contains descriptions of each of the 43 vegetation and land cover types.

Download the 2007 Florida Scientist article Florida Vegetation 2003 and Land Use Change Between 1985-89 and 2003. This article details the methods used to create the 2003 vegetation and land cover map and the change analyses between 1985-89 and 2003.

Contact us with comments or questions regarding the Florida Vegetation and Land Cover Data.