Abstract Land classification is the base of land evaluation, land planning and land management, and plays an important role in the sustainable development of forestry resource. Ecological land classification (ELC) is the main approuch and direction of land classification. Along with the development of landscape ecology and 3Stechniques, developing of ecological classification system (ECS) becomes the keystone of ELC. The definition, history, basic characteristics of ELC, the theory of ECSand its' prospects were systematically reviewed in this paper. The prospects were also described for the development of ECSmethodology and the application of ELC. The general direction of ecological land research, which was a multi factors and multi levels syntheses based on the multi objects administration of resource (forest, land and waters), was the combination of quantificational and qualitative research. It is necessary to carry out relevant researches in China.