Land Administration and Cadastre


Modern land administration as a coherent field of study is new even though it builds on well over a century of experience, publications and scholarship in cadastre, rural land management, land economy and land information management. The first major ‘land administration’ publication in the modern sense was the UNECE Land Administration Guidelines that date back to 1996, followed by Peter Dale’s and John McLaughlin’s ‘Land Administration’ in 1999. However for decades earlier, leadership in land policy and related issues came from such organisations as the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s Land Tenure Service, the University of Cambridge’s Department of Land Economy and the University of Wisconsin’s Land Tenure Centre. Importantly the International Federation of Surveyors (FIG) through its Commission 7 (Cadastre and Land Management) made significant contributions as early as pre WWII and continues to provide leadership to this day. Many countries had a Department of Lands for well over a century. For whatever reason, land administration is now an area of international scholarship covering issues in land from high technology to land reform in post-conflict countries.


Land administration systems (LAS) order the complex rights, restrictions and responsibilities relating to land and resources affecting owners, businesses and society in general. Land administration is concerned with the social, legal, economic and technical frameworks within which land managers and administrators must operate. LAS are essential infrastructure of government. However they vary, depending on the level of development of a particular country and the local arrangements of its land and resources.

In developed countries LAS are supported by information and communication technology, and spatial enablement of land information. Whatever their development stage, LASs in all countries support sustainable land and resource uses. The land management vision below shows how land administration processes relating to land tenure, value, use and development relate to other aspects of national endeavour.

The land management vision (Wallace, Williamson and Enemark, 2006, p 249)


Articulating a national vision for Australia’s LAS for 2020

Incorporating sustainable development objectives into ICT enabled land administration systems

Recognising informal tenures, particularly in developing countries

Incorporating restrictions and responsibilities into land administration systems

Incorporating mining and water information into land administration systems