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The LAW of the LAND

Organising and improving land administration system is not an option but a need and necessity for every country. Getting this system in place ensures better management and utilisation of natural and man-made resources, and infrastructure. Land as a sector is also one of the primary users and producers of spatial data, the very basis on which geospatial industry rests. In an endeavour to understand land management processes across the world, Geospatial World undertook a survey in various countries. A total of 70 national agencies responsible for cadastral maps and land registry from different parts of the world were approached with open-ended questionnaires on the status of land administration, the challenges and opportunities. The survey focuses on two key aspects of land administration, i.e. cadastral mapping and land registration. Here is a snapshot:

Cadastral Mapping

Availability of maps

In developed countries, a wider range of map resolutions are available in digital format, while developing countries are either using paper maps or are in the process of digitising them.

Frequency of re-survey

A large number of developing countries are not able to frequently re-survey their land to update their cadastral maps. Perhaps due to shortage of resources, they are able to conduct re-survey either on demand or unable to conduct surveys at all. On the other hand, the developed countries frequently update their cadastral maps or are at least able to do so on demand basis.

Features on cadastre maps
Developed countries have more features embedded in their cadastral maps as compared to developing countries. The most common feature found on cadastral maps include boundaries, both administrative and parcel, followed by parcel coordinates/dimensions/number, land-use data, geographical names/address/building identifiers etc.

Geospatial technologies for cadastral mapping

The most popular technology used for cadastral mapping is GNSS, followed by aerial photography, high resolution satellite imagery, total stations and traditional surveying techniques. More number of developing countries are using traditional surveying techniques like chain survey as compared to developed countries. Also, the number of countries using modern techniques is more in developed world than the developing world.

Popular uses of cadastral maps

The usage pattern of cadastral maps for various purposes other than land registration, brings out some interesting facts: they are being used for implementing and planning of energy/infrastructure projects, banking/insurance, local governance concerns like planning and management of services for health, education, urban planning, garbage collection etc., taxation, disaster management/ public safety, spatial planning, statistical purposes etc. Interestingly one developed country responded that its cadastral maps are not used at all, as they are still very primitive! This, of course, is just one case and not the norm.

Land Registration

Days and procedures for property registration

The graph illustrates the comparison between developing and developed countries in terms of number of days for property registration and the number of procedures involved for the process. It has been created using data from World Bank. Developing countries usually take more number of days and have more number of procedures to register property, as compared to developed countries. This is a key parameter to estimate the ease of doing business, and ostensibly, the group of developed nations score better in this.

Primary land owner
There is a stark difference between the two worlds in terms of primary ownership of land: while in almost all of the developing countries, the primary owner of land was found to be the State, in the developed countries, land was primarily found to be owned by private individuals.