Pastoral Engagement, Adaptation and Capacity Enhancement

Land Cover Map of Afghanistan

As part of an intensive rangeland mapping project, we compiled a new land cover map for Afghanistan based on several data sets and new field observations. Satellite imagery and raster models, used as the basis of for classification, ranged in pixel size from 1 km to 14.5 m. The minimum resolution of the final product was 40 m, although some land cover categories reflect input data of up to 1 km. Rather than attempt to make our product conform to 'a priori' classification schemes, which would require aggregating some of our classes, we permitted the data and methodology to dictate both the thematic and spatial resolution attainable. Raster data sources included Worldclim climate surfaces (1 km), MODIS NDVI imagery (250 m), ASTER digital elevation data (30 m), and pan-sharpened Landsat natural-color composite imagery (14.25 m). The resulting map appears to be a great improvement over any prior products.


Click hereto view the Land Cover Map in PDF format.


Land Cover Quantification


The distribution of hydrologic features varies greatly from season-to-season and from year-to-year, therefore we did not provide an aerial estimate. Our figures represent the land base only. The water can be superimposed as desired so that the area of terrestrial environments equals the area of Afghanistan. Terrestrial classes are listed below.


Desert/desertified areas 149,084sqkm, 21.41%

Annual-to-perennial grassland 93,552sqkm, 13.44%

Perennial grassland-to-open woodland 105,274sqkm, 15.12%

Open woodland-to-open shrubland 102,113sqkm, 14.66%

Open shrubland 53,453sqkm, 7.68%

Alpine/subalpine 79,862sqkm, 11.47%

Total Rangeland

583,337sqkm, 83.77%


Rock 58,544sqlm, 8.41%

Barren 25,525sqkm, 3.67%

Irrigated agriculture 15,921sqkm, 2.29%

Fallow irrigated agriculture 1,090sqkm, 0.16%

Conifer woodland and forest 2,231sqkm, 0.32%

Perennial and near-perennial snow 9,262sqkm, 1.33%

Urban 405sqkm, 0.06%

Total Land Area

696,315sqkm, 100%


Requests for additional information should be directed to Dr. Michael Jacobs