Transboundary air pollution from industries in Nikel and Zapolyarnij has caused severe damage to the environment in Southern-Varanger in Norway and in Pechenga municipality in Russia. The work presented in this paper focuses on the integration of in-situ air pollution data with remote sensing based land cover maps. Land cover maps have been utilised to detect changes in the major land cover types within the area. The major change in the environment was the decrease of the sensitive lichen-dominated land cover types, and the increase of bilberry-dominated land cover types and finally the increase of the land cover types with the greatest air pollution stress (industrial barren, barren, and partly damaged vegetation, defoliated forests, lichen removal). A GIS based method for assessing the relationship of the remotely sensed land cover maps with the environmental condition parameters was developed and applied. By comparing the results from this analysis we observed that the land cover types with the greatest stress had the largest concentrations of SO2 in the ground air layer, while the land cover types with minor damage (the remaining lichen-dominated vegetation) had rather low concentrations of sulphur dioxide in the ground air layer. The area of the land cover types with the greatest stress (industrial barren, barren and partly damaged vegetation) has increased in the period 1973–1988, and the degradation is carried out in a such manner that sensitive mountain and lichen vegetation formations have been transformed into a more barren-like environment. The increase in the emissions has also transferred the natural barrens which also consisted of some sparse vegetation into a complete barren with little vegetation left. Also the epilitic lichens and mosses on bare rocks and stones were also removed by the high concentrations of SO2. The land cover types with minor damage (with the remaining lichen-dominated vegetation) had rather low concentrations of the contaminants (SO2, Ni and S), while the partly damaged and damaged land cover types had the highest concentrations of the contaminants. An exception was the Ni and S concentrations found in class 11 Industrial barrens which were lower than expected. Associations between the degradation and the SO2 concentration in the air were also documented. The conclusion from this analysis is that the in-situ data support the observations of damaged vegetation and industrial barrens imaged by the Landsat satellites, especially in the surroundings of Nikel and Zapolyarnij.