Perez-Hoyos, A; Udias, A; Rembold, F (2020). Integrating multiple land cover maps through a multi-criteria analysis to improve agricultural monitoring in Africa. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF APPLIED EARTH OBSERVATION AND GEOINFORMATION, 88, 102064.

Monitoring agricultural land cover is highly relevant for global early warning systems such as ASAP (Anomaly hot Spots of Agricultural Production), because it represents the basis for detecting production deficits in food security assessment. Given the significant inconsistencies among existing land cover datasets, there is a need to obtain a more accurate representation of the spatial distribution and extent of agricultural area in Africa. In this research, we explore a fusion approach that combines the strength of individual datasets and minimises their limitations. Specifically, a semi-automatic method is developed, relying on multi-criteria analysis (MCA) complemented with manual fine-tuning using the best-rated datasets, to generate two hybrid and static agricultural masks - one for cropland and another for grassland. Following a comprehensive selection of land cover maps, each dataset is evaluated at country level according to five criteria: timeliness, spatial resolution, comparison with FAO statistics, accuracy assessment and expert evaluation. A sensitivity analysis is performed, based on an evaluation of the impact of weight settings on the resulting land cover. The proposed methodology is capable of improving agricultural characterisation in Africa. As a result, two static masks at 250 m spatial resolution for the nominal year 2016 are provided.