BigEarthNet Labels#

BigEarthNet used the CORINE Land Cover database (CLC) of the year 2018 (CLC2018) to label 590’326 patches. The label information about these patches were overlayed with data from the Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 mission, to create the datasets BigEarthnet-S1 and BigEarthNet-S2. BigEarthNet-S2 was the first published dataset and used the most specific version of the classification level of the CLC database, Level-3 with 43 different classes in the dataset [2]. With the publication of the BigEarthNet-S1 dataset, the recommended label nomenclature has been updated to use a 19-class nomenclature specifically designed for use in the machine-learning domain. [3].


  • The original BigEarthNet-S2 dataset used the CLC Level-3 specification, which defines 44 classes

    • Of these 44-classes one class, Glaciers and perpetual snow is not present

    • As a result the label-set is referred to as the 43-label nomenclature.

  • The 19-class label nomenclature was introduced to better reflect the application in the machine learning domain

43-class nomenclature#

The CORINE (Coordination of Information on the Environment) Land Cover nomenclature is a nomenclature used to describe physical material at the surface of the earth. The CLC nomenclature defines a standardized classification schema that can be used for annotating remote imagery.

The CLC classification schema is defined as a 3-level deep hierarchy with:

  • 5 classes in level 1

  • 15 classes in level 2

  • 44 classes in level 3

The following box shows the label hierarchy in a tabular form. More in-depth information about the CLC2018 nomenclature, including example images for each level-3 label, can be reviewed on the Corine-Land-Cover-Nomenclature-Guidelines site.

Agricultural areas Arable land Non-irrigated arable land
Permanently irrigated land
Rice fields
Heterogeneous agricultural areas Agro-forestry areas
Annual crops associated with permanent crops
Complex cultivation patterns
Land principally occupied by agriculture, with significant areas of natural vegetation
Pastures Pastures
Permanent crops Fruit trees and berry plantations
Olive groves
Artificial Surfaces Artificial, non-agricultural vegetated areas Green urban areas
Sport and leisure facilities
Industrial, comercial and transport units Airports
Industrial or commercial units
Port areas
Road and rail networks and associated land
Mine, dump and construction sites Construction sites
Dump sites
Mineral extraction sites
Urban fabric Continuous urban fabric
Discontinuous urban fabric
Forest and seminatural areas Forest Broad-leaved forest
Coniferous forest
Mixed forest
Open spaces with little or no vegetation Bare rock
Beaches, dunes, sands
Burnt areas
Glaciers and perpetual snow
Sparsely vegetated areas
Shrub and/or herbaceous vegetation associations Moors and heathland
Natural grassland
Sclerophyllous vegetation
Transitional woodland/shrub
Water bodies Inland waters Water bodies
Water courses
Marine waters Coastal lagoons
Sea and ocean
Wetlands Coastal wetlands Intertidal flats
Salt marshes
Inland wetlands Inland marshes

19-class nomenclature#

The 19-class nomenclature has combined and dropped classes from the 43-class variant for better use in machine learning. More specifically, ten classes of the original CLC nomenclature are maintained in the new nomenclature, 22 classes are grouped into 9 new classes, and 11 classes have been removed. Classes that strongly depend on land use or require additional data for their discrimination were removed.

The change was necessary because there are some CLC classes that are difficult to be identified by only exploiting (single-date) Sentinel-2 images, because:

  • Land use concepts associated with some classes may not be visible from space or fully recognizable with the spatial resolution of Sentinel-2 images, such as:

    • Dump sites, Sport, and leisure facilities

  • RS time series, which BigEarthNet does not include, may be required to describe and discriminate some classes , such as:

    • Non-irrigated arable land, or permanently irrigated land

The following table displays the exact the mapping from the old to the new class nomenclature.


11 classes were dropped from the original 43-class nomenclature. As a result, there are 57 patches of the original BigEarthNet dataset that have no target labels. These patches should be dropped in experiments to remain compatible with the new nomenclature.

Original 43-class label Updated 19-class label
Continuous urban fabric Urban fabric
Discontinuous urban fabric Urban fabric
Industrial or commercial units Industrial or commercial units
Road and rail networks and associated land REMOVED
Port areas REMOVED
Airports REMOVED
Mineral extraction sites REMOVED
Dump sites REMOVED
Construction sites REMOVED
Green urban areas REMOVED
Sport and leisure facilities REMOVED
Non-irrigated arable land Arable land
Permanently irrigated land Arable land
Rice fields Arable land
Vineyards Permanent crops
Fruit trees and berry plantations Permanent crops
Olive groves Permanent crops
Pastures Pastures
Annual crops associated with permanent crops Permanent crops
Complex cultivation patterns Complex cultivation patterns
Land principally occupied by agriculture, with significant areas of natural vegetation Land principally occupied by agriculture, with significant areas of natural vegetation
Agro-forestry areas Agro-forestry areas
Broad-leaved forest Broad-leaved forest
Coniferous forest Coniferous forest
Mixed forest Mixed forest
Natural grassland Natural grassland and sparsely vegetated areas
Moors and heathland Moors, heathland and sclerophyllous vegetation
Sclerophyllous vegetation Moors, heathland and sclerophyllous vegetation
Transitional woodland/shrub Transitional woodland, shrub
Beaches, dunes, sands Beaches, dunes, sands
Bare rock REMOVED
Sparsely vegetated areas Natural grassland and sparsely vegetated areas
Burnt areas REMOVED
Inland marshes Inland wetlands
Peatbogs Inland wetlands
Salt marshes Coastal wetlands
Salines Coastal wetlands
Intertidal flats REMOVED
Water courses Inland waters
Water bodies Inland waters
Coastal lagoons Marine waters
Estuaries Marine waters
Sea and ocean Marine waters