Land Use Classification Using Remote Sensing - Advantages and Limitations

  • Ability to quickly produce high quality and up-to-date maps on land use, land cover and soil classification.
  • Ability to produce the above mentioned maps for areas where accessibility is either impossible or only possible with considerable effort.
  • Useful tool not only for agriculturalists wishing to monitor different crops being produced in a specified area but also useful for monitoring large-scale changes in the land, including destruction of forests, desertification and changes in land use over time (i.e. time series).
  • The method requires specialized know-how and therefore requires well-trained personnel to classify the features correctly and to determine the land use and other changes that have occurred. Personnel have to be familiar with cartographic principals, projection methodologies, basics in planning and monitoring as well as being knowledgeable in the use of GIS in order to be able to produce accurate maps.
  • Considerable investment in hardware and software is required. Computers need to be capable of handling the large amounts of data delivered from the remote sensing satellites. Specialised software is required to handle satellite images, such software is usually quite expensive
  • A further limitation is the fact that personnel usually have to be trained in order to be able to handle satellite images and remote sensing data. Such specialized training is usually expensive and time consuming. A further limitation is that suitable personnel who can be trained are often not available in the area where the technology is to be used.
  • Once the personnel have been trained their “market value” rises dramatically and there is a tendency for them to leave the public service seeking more lucrative jobs in the private sector. Retention of personnel qualified in remote sensing and GIS is difficult for the public sector.
  • Recent satellite images often have to be used in order to undertake change-detection of land uses or other features that are to be monitored. Acquiring the satellite images is often difficult not only because the images are relatively expensive but they can also not be freely purchased in many countries due to military or other restrictions.