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Global forest cover 2020 - Data Access

About the data

The global map of forest cover was created by combining available global datasets (wall-to-wall or global in their scope) on tree cover, tree height, land cover and land use into a single harmonized globally-consistent representation of where forests existed in 2020.

The workflow consists in first mapping the global maximum extent of tree cover circa the year 2020 from the combination of ESA World Cover 2020 and 2021, WRI Tropical Tree Cover 2020, UMD Global land cover and land use 2019, Global Mangrove Watch 2020 and JRC Tropical Moist Forest 2020 datasets. In a second step, a series of overlays and decision rules are applied to reduce this maximum extent of tree cover and align it with the Forest definition using datasets covering cropland and commodity expansion (ESA World Cereal, UMD Global land cover and land use 2019, UMD Global Cropland Expansion, High-resolution global map of smallholder and industrial oil palm plantations, and WRI Spatial Database of Planted Trees), land use change (UMD global forest cover loss, JRC Tropical Moist Forest, IIASA Global Forest Management), built-up (JRC Global Human Settlement) and water (JRC Global Surface Water).

The global input layers and mapping approach are described in a JRC science for policy report, available here.

Known issues

The following tables show a non-exhaustive list of issues that have not been corrected in the map. The table “by region” lists issues of broader, more general nature. Specific issues are listed in the table “by coordinates”, where the coordinates point approximately to the centre location where the issue was found. Occasionally, these lists may be updated. Improvements of the map (higher versions) will aim to alleviate some of the known issues.

By region

Region Description of the issue Date Source
Urban areas Heterogeneous categorization of urban forests and residual woodlands. Some urban parks may be included as forests in the final map (commission errors) 12/6/2023 Producer
Global Artefacts (striping patterns) linked to data and technical issues from Landsat 7 ETM+ satellite sensor (commission errors). 12/6/2023 Producer
Global Salt and pepper effect although it has been mitigated by the post-processing steps 12/6/2023 Producer
Global Geometric shifts due to crossing of different input layers that result in commission or omission errors along forest edges 12/6/2023 Producer
Global heterogeneous classification of forest in seasonally inundated areas (areas along riparian forests and rivers) 12/6/2023 Producer
Mountainous areas Underestimation of forests in areas with high slopes (omission errors) 12/6/2023 Producer
Tropical dry forest Separation between tropical dry open forests and shrublands are often difficult to capture, leading to mapping with heterogeneous accuracy in tropical dry domain (mix of omission and commission errors) 12/6/2023 Producer
Indonesia, Malaysia, West Africa Overestimation of forest cover in areas with small-holder oil palm plantations or mixed oil palm plantations (oil palm mixed with other crops) or oil palm plantations with low canopy coverage resulting in commission errors 12/6/2023 Producer
Ivory Coast, Ghana, Cameroon Overestimation of forest cover in cocoa production area, including both full-sun and shaded cocoa agroforestry systems (commission errors) 12/6/2023 Producer
Vietnam, Brazil Overestimation of forest cover in coffee production area (commission errors) 12/6/2023 Producer
Global Potential confusion between forest cover and tree plantation for agricultural use (e.g. orchards) or rubber plantations 12/6/2023 Producer
Global Recently burned and clear cut logged forests may be classified as non-forest cover due to the absence of standing trees (omission errors) 12/6/2023 Producer
Tropics Forest edges in heterogeneous landscapes may not be accurately mapped due to the complex mosaics between forests and other land cover (omission errors) 12/6/2023 Producer
Polar Commission error, in some areas dense short vegetation is classified as forest 12/6/2023 Producer
Easternmost Siberia Block of forested land mapped in no tree or very sparse tree area 12/6/2023 Producer
180 degree longitude Missing forest area 12/6/2023 Producer

By coordinates

Longitude Latitude Description of the issue Date Source
-60.39555 -18.33929 Stripes 12/6/2023 Producer
13.84255 8.77345 Stripes 12/6/2023 Producer
23.6801 9.8767 Stripes 12/6/2023 Producer
24.80143 9.6225 Stripes 12/6/2023 Producer
26.04346 9.29019 Stripes 12/6/2023 Producer
30.17033 6.45132 Stripes 12/6/2023 Producer
31.24432 4.85705 Stripes 12/6/2023 Producer
33.02064 4.41722 Stripes 12/6/2023 Producer
32.32384 -12.5015 Stripes 12/6/2023 Producer
20.0363 -10.4397 Stripes 12/6/2023 Producer
19.7457 -9.0165 Stripes 12/6/2023 Producer
20.4062 -8.8466 Stripes 12/6/2023 Producer
19.6471 -8.0315 Stripes 12/6/2023 Producer
19.91755 -7.11935 Stripes 12/6/2023 Producer
17.76592 -6.60281 Stripes 12/6/2023 Producer
-2.1058 8.8034 Stripes 12/6/2023 Producer
14.794 7.7276 Stripes 12/6/2023 Producer
19.7644 9.446 Stripes 12/6/2023 Producer
21.7979 9.4115 Stripes 12/6/2023 Producer
21.7333 10.4042 Stripes 12/6/2023 Producer
-61.5989 -19.399 Stripes 12/6/2023 Producer
64.1821 67.9923 commission error in polar areas 12/6/2023 Producer
-0.04501 51.53422 urban park misclassified as forest 12/6/2023 Producer
41.689082 -0.816276 omission of dry forest (large area in Somalia) 12/6/2023 Producer
13.07921 52.37414 Geometric shift due to crossing of different input layers at various spatial resolution 12/6/2023 Producer
-73.53428 45.515974 urban park misclassified as forest 12/6/2023 Producer
179.9415 -16.184 Missing forest area 12/6/2023 Producer

Data Download process

The global forest cover map of 2020 in version 1 is available for download by 10°x10° tiles. The tiling starts at 180°W and 80°N with tile ID “N80” and “W180”, respectively. Tiles over the ocean are not provided. The file format is GEOTIFF.

The naming convention is as follows JRC_GFC2020_V1_[lat]_[lon].tif, where:

Map coordinates are in latitude and longitude, referenced to the WGS84 datum.

Click on the tile in the image below to start the download.

global map

Supporting files


Each of the downloadable files can be displayed in desktop GIS tools. The table below contains symbology files to display the colourmap and labels for the values in QGIS and ArcGIS.

Dataset QGIS ArcGIS
Global forest cover map 2020, Version 1 JRC_GFC2020_V1.qml JRC_GFC2020_V1.lyr


The files for download are geolocated (latitude and longitude with WGS84 datum) but do not contain any metadata information. Please right-click in the table below to download the metadata file.

Dataset ISO 19139 Metadata file
Global forest cover map 2020, Version 1 JRC_GFC2020_V1.xml

Other data access

Interactive visualization of the global forest cover map along with frequently asked questions and other information can be found at the EU Observatory on deforestation and forest degradation website.

Web Map Service

The global forest cover map of 2020 can also be viewed in other websites or GIS clients as WMS (Web Map Service). They are not suitable for analysis as the data are represented only as RGB images. The WMS URL is:

Google Earth Engine

The Global forest cover map 2020 (Version 1) can also be accessed and used in the Google Earth Engine platform:


All data here are produced under studies funded by the Directorate-General for Environment of the European Commission through the Dev-ForObs project. All data are provided free- of- charge, without restriction of use. For the full license information see the Copernicus Regulation of the European Commission.

Publications, models and data products that make use of this dataset must include proper acknowledgement, including citing dataset as in the following citation:

Bourgoin, Clement; Ameztoy, Iban; Verhegghen, Astrid; Carboni, Silvia; Colditz, Rene R.; Achard, Frederic (2023): Global map of forest cover 2020 - version 1. European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC) [Dataset] PID:


The designations employed and the presentation of material on this map do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the European Union concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.