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Information on the classification


Information on our living environment and land use and land coverage data are used in three different levels:

  • Locally for operative planning of the use of areas.
  • Nationally for land use policy and national environmental protection.
  • Internationally for producing comparative analyses and monitoring world-wide changes.

The majority of the use and users in Finland are from the public administration. Municipalities, regional councils, research institutes and universities are potential local and regional users. On the national level users include the environmental administration, the Finnish Forest Research Institute, the defence administration, Statistics Finland and the Geological Survey of Finland.


The structure of the Finnish Land Use Classification is hierarchical and has three levels. The main categories, or the top hierarchy level, were formed similarly as many other, e.g. international systems: built-up land, forests (other land) and water areas. Sites classified as built-up land are generally constructions created as a result of human activity and are mainly used for living, working, movement or recreation. They are further divided into categories by the nature of the activity in the area concerned.

Relationship with international classifications

Finland's land use classification does not apply directly any existing international classification. International classifications and Finland's land use classification share certain similarities, such as hierarchical nature and formation of 1st level groups. There are differences as well; Finland aimed to produce a classification primarily suited for national use, while the purpose of the examined international systems is to make the same classification universally applicable.

The Finnish land use classification differs from international classification systems particularly in that land use, land cover and classification of soil are differentiated from one another; land cover is the physical description of the area and the use is its operative description. In international systems categories concerning both land use and land cover are usually always combined. In that case, land use is often the determining criterion and only such areas are classified by land cover that are considered to be without any special use or whose use according to land cover is self-evident.


Land Use Classification. Helsinki: Statistics Finland, 2000. Handbooks / Statistics Finland, 40 (in Finnish, English summary)

Further information

Mr Leo Kolttola, Business Structures/Environment and energy, or Ms Riitta Poukka, IT and Statistical Methods/Classification services. Tel. +358 9 17341 (exchange).