Global Spatial Layers for Estimating Soil GHG Emissions from Indirect Land Use Changes(ILUC) due to the Production of Biofuels

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Available Layers: Reference Grid, Global Land Cover, Climate and Ecological Zones, Soil Default C-Stocks, Land Use System Factor(FLUSYS), IFPRI Global Regions, Crop Surface Area . The data made available on these pages are referred to in the Guide for Calculation of Carbon Stock Changes in Soil and Above and Below Ground Vegetation due to Land Use Conversion, which was prepared in support to Commission Decision C(2010) 3751). The thematic spatial layers complement the data already published on the reference climate region and soil type classification.


The basic data cover the layers needed to set the framework for the spatial analysis of the land use change analysis. Details on the characteristics of the spatial layers are provided in Table 1.

Table 1: Technical Specifications of Spatial Data Layers

Data type 16-bit integer
File type binary
No. of columns 4320
No of rows 2160
Reference system ETRS89
Reference units Degrees
Min. x coordinate -180.00
Max. x coordinate 180.00
Min. y coordinate -90.00
Max. y coordinate 90.00

1.1 Reference Grid

Reference Grid

The reference grid defines the common spatial layer specifications and specifies for position of a grid cell on land a unique identifier (ID) between 330053 and 7561355. The grid resolution was set to a regular size of 5 arc minutes (0.083333 deg). This grid spacing corresponds to approx. 10km at the equator.

1.2 Grid Cell Area

The reference grid layer is also used to define the land-sea mask applied to all layers of the series. In all layers the area covered by Antarctica was not included.

Reference Grid Area

For each grid cell the surface area is represented in a separate layer. Since the layers are not projected the surface area changes with latitude. This uneven weight in computations related to areas with latitude has to be considered in calculations for changes in land use classes. For convenience the area layer is therefore provided.



The data forming the set of thematic layers define the input information for the computation of the default values to calculate GHG emissions from changes in soil C-stocks according to the factors defined in the Guide (Carré, et al., 2010) .

2.1 Land Cover

land use

The land cover layer compromises a merge between data from the GlobCover project (Version 2.2, released 10.12.2008; Bicheron et al., 2008), and the McGill University M3-Cropland data (Ramankutty et al., 2008. The land cover classes were aligned to correspond to the specifications of the RED:

  • Open Forest, < 30% cover
  • Closed Forest, >= 30 % cover
  • Cropland
  • Grassland
  • Shrub
  • Sparse vegetation
  • Wetland
  • Artificial areas
  • Other land areas

The layers contain for each grid the relative proportion of the land cover type at the resolution of 5 arc min..

2.2 Ecological Zones

Ecological Zones

In addition to the climatic regions a layer containing ecological zones was defined. The definition of the ecological zones is described in Chapter 4 – Forest Land of the 2006 IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories rather than in Chapter 3 – Consistent Representation of Lands. The map of global ecological zones given in Figure 4.1 of the report originates from Global Forests Resources Assessment 2000 (FAO, 2001), FRA2000. Spatial layers of ecological zones and domains can be downloaded from the FAO GeoNetwork server. The definition of the ecological zones is described in Table 4.1 (IPCC, 2006).

To maintain compatibility with the Climate Region map a spatial layer of Ecological Zones was generated with the minimum of modifications. The Ecological Zone data is therefore only an approximation of the FAO map on Global Ecological Zones. The main difference in the definition of the ecological zones between the two maps is the use of only climatic data to guide the classification in the study data and not incorporate information on the vegetation pattern. This difference is of some significance because the layer is employed to map the carbon estimates in above and below ground vegetation by land cover type. This leads to some of the ecological zones not being present in the layer.


2.3 Soil Default C-Stocks

Soil organic Carbon

From the combination of the soil classes with the climate regions the default reference soil organic C-stocks can be generated. The corresponding layer provides the soil organic C-stocks in a depth of 0-30 cm in t C ha-1 for mineral soil types. The C-stocks were calculated from the Harmonized World Soil Database (HWSD) V. 1.1, using information from all typological units. Areas missing in the HWSD were substituted from the FAO-UNESCO Soil Map of the World.


2.4 Land Use System Factor

Land use

In the approach used the variation of soil C-stocks from the default value are governed by the Land Use System Factor (FLUSYS). The FLUSYS is a combination of the

  • land use type, (FLU)
  • management system (FMGM) and
  • input (FI).

A FLUSYS of 1 is applied to all native ecosystems and non-degraded grassland with nominal management. For cultivated areas, including areas of set-aside, the nominal value may deviate from 1, depending on the management practice and input factors.

Spatial layers of the FLUSYS were thus generated for to following land use types:

  • Cultivated, annual
  • Cultivated, perennial
  • Rice, paddy
  • Set-aside
  • Grassland

Where cropland expands to areas previously without cropland the FLUSYS of the neighbouring land can be applied. The potential FLUSYS of these areas was estimated from the reference data using an expansion function based on the inverse distance. Since the land use types “rice, paddy” and “set-aside” only have a single value for the FLUSYS the expansion was only performed for the annual and perennial land use type layers.



Data needed to evaluate the output from an economic model for GHG emissions from ILUC can be specific to that model. The main areas of variations concern the definition of the economic regions and the crops or groups of crops used. It should be noted that the composition of the groups of crops used in the economic models are not necessarily identical to those of the crop groups defined in the ancillary spatial data. Where needed, crop groups of sugar or oil crops can be generated from corresponding individual crops.

3.1 IFPRI Global Regions

IFPRI Regions

The International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington (IFPRI) evaluates the area needs for biofuels based on a set of economic scenarios. Estimates are provided by global economic region. The attribution of countries to an economic region as used in the project is given in this layer. There can be areas with a different attribution in the layer from the one used by IFPRI, such as French Guyana or some of the disputed regions in Asia and Africa. In Europe the attribution of the areas covered by the Former Republic of Yugoslavia were assigned to the rest of the World (RoWorld).

3.2 Crop Surface Area


The proportional surface area of crops used in the economic models was derived from the harvested area of the McGill University M3-Crops data (Monfreda, et al., 2008). The conversion of harvested to proportional surface area was based on the estimation of multi-cropping systems.

Spatial layers for the following crops were generated:

  • Wheat
  • Grain Maize
  • Rice
  • Sugar beet
  • Sugarcane
  • Oil palm
  • Rapeseed
  • Soybean
  • Sunflower
  • Vegetables & Fruit
  • Other crops
  • Rest

The crop "Other Crops" includes any crops not otherwise covered by a specific crop type. The layer “Rest” accounts for the difference in area between the M3-Cropland data (Ramakutty, et al., 2008) and the sum of the crop group area.


Bicheron P., P. Defourny, C. Brockmann, L. Schouten, C. Vancutsem, M. Huc, S. Bontemps, M. Leroy, F. Achard, M. Herold, F. Ranera and O. Arino (2008) CLOBCOVER: Products Description and Validation Report. MEDIAS France, 18, avenue E. Belin, bpi 2102, 31401 Toulouse Cedex 9, France. 47pp.

FAO (2001) Global Forest Resources Assessment 2000. FAO, Rome. 479pp.

FAO/IIASA/ISRIC/ISSCAS/JRC (2009) Harmonized World Soil Database (version 1.1). FAO, Rome, Italy and IIASA, Laxenburg, Austria.

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) (2006) 2006 Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories. Eggelstone, S., L. Buemdia, K. Miwa, T. Ngara and K. Tanabe (Eds.). IPCC/OECD/IEA/IGES, Hayama, Japan

Monfreda C., N. Ramankutty and J. Foley (2008) Farming the planet: 2. Geographic distribution of crop areas, yields, physiological types, and net primary production in the year 2000. Global Biochemical Cycles, Vol. 22, GB1022, doi : 10.1029/ 2007GB002952

Official Journal L140, 05.06.2009, p. 16-62.

Official Journal L151, 17.06.2010, p. 19-41.

Ramankutty, N., A. T. Evan, C. Monfreda, and J. A. Foley, 2008. Farming the planet: 1. Geographic distribution of global agricultural lands in the year 2000. Global Biogeochemical Cycles, Vol. 22, GB1003, doi:10.1029/2007GB002952.

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