FIG Statement on the Cadastre - Summary

The International Federation of Surveyors Statement on the Cadastre highlights the importance of the Cadastre as a land information system for social and economic development from an international perspective and recognises the central role that surveyors play in the establishment and maintenance of Cadastres. The statement does not recommend a uniform Cadastre for every country or jurisdiction, but gives a range of options in establishing and managing a Cadastre.

A Cadastre is normally a parcel based and up-to-date land information system containing a record of interests in land (eg. rights, restrictions and responsibilities). It usually includes a geometric description of land parcels linked to other records describing the nature of the interests, and ownership or control of those interests, and often the value of the parcel and its improvements. It may be established for fiscal purposes (eg. valuation and equitable taxation), legal purposes (conveyancing), to assist in the management of land and land use (eg. for planning and other administrative purposes), and enables sustainable development and environmental protection. Cadastral Reform is concerned with the improvement of cadastral systems.

Land Management is the process of managing the use and development of land resources in a sustainable way. Effective land management is impossible without land information, eg. information about land resource capacity, land tenure, land ownership and land use. The Cadastre is the primary means of providing information about land. The Cadastre provides:

The Cadastre is a land information system, usually managed by one or more government agencies. Since information about land parcels is often needed by many different users, a unified Cadastre helps to avoid duplication and assists in the efficient exchange of information.

Land Tenure is concerned with the rights, restrictions and responsibilities that people have with respect to the land. The Cadastre may record different forms of land tenure such as ownership, leasehold, easements, mortgages and different types of common, communal or customary land tenure.

The Surveyor undertakes different roles in different countries in relation to the establishment and maintenance of the Cadastre. The Surveyor may be responsible for:

There are a number of legal, technical, and operational cadastral issues that must be resolved according to the needs and constraints of each country or jurisdiction. Some of these are:

Documentation of informal or customary rights is sometimes connected to the establishment of land markets. In other cases the purpose can be to document customary tenure systems for land management purposes without changing the nature of the system or tenure relationships. In both cases it is essential that such reforms are only started after careful investigations of the need for and the consequences of the reform.

Land registration is the official recording of legally recognised interests in land and is usually part of a cadastral system. From a legal perspective a distinction can be made between deeds registration, where the documents filed in the registry are the evidence of title, and registration of title, in which the register itself serves as the primary evidence. Title registration is usually considered a more advanced registration system, which requires more investment for introduction, but provides in principle greater security of tenure and more reliable information. Title registration usually results in lower transaction costs than deed registration systems thereby promoting a more efficient land market.

Land registration (land titling) can be undertaken sporadically at the time of each legal transaction or systematically area by area. While the sporadic approach gives more immediate benefits to individual land holders, the systematic approach provides a wider range of benefits more quickly, especially if the land registry is part of a more comprehensive land information system.

The basic unit in a Cadastre is known as the parcel. A parcel can be an area of land with a particular type of land use, or an area exclusively controlled by an individual or a group. A property may consist of several parcels. The flexibility of the definition of a parcel makes it possible to adapt the cadastral system to various circumstances, for instance to include large parcels to represent the interests of land use in traditional tenure systems.

Boundaries of parcels can be defined by physical demarcation on the ground or by a mathematical description usually based on a coordinate system. The accuracy and consequently the cost of cadastral surveys is dependent on the accuracy needed for boundary descriptions. The accuracy should reflect factors such as the value of the land, the risk and cost of land disputes and the information needs of the users of the Cadastre.

Modern technology, such as modern survey instruments, satellite position fixing (Global Positioning System - GPS), aerial photography and photogrammetry can offer new possibilities to increase the speed and lower the costs for cadastral reform. Computer technology can usually provide better access to information, better manipulation of cadastral data, better quality, and better legal and physical security than manual systems. To fully utilise modern technology it is important to have trained personnel and facilities to maintain the equipment. Unfortunately this infrastructure is not found in many countries thereby limiting the use of modern technology.

The Cadastre is a public land information system and should therefore be managed or supervised by the Government. In some countries, new organisational arrangements for the implementation of systems are being investigated, such as joint ventures or partnerships between government and the private sector or contracting out specific activities to the private sector. In other countries, the cadastral organisation has become more independent in terms of management and financing from government budgets. In both cases a more direct financing of cadastral operations is sought through cost recovery or even to generate government revenue. However this can not replace basic governmental investments in spatial infrastructure such as a national coordinate system.

A Cadastre must be demand driven; that means it must fulfil the demands of its clients and that it needs to be coordinated with other land information systems.

The Cadastre supports the public administration of land. The information in the Cadastre can be used for the formulation, implementation and monitoring of land policies, such as those concerning land redistribution, land consolidation, land acquisition and allocation, and land markets.

Cadastral data should be accessible to the general public. However the cadastral system must include measures to protect individual and private interests from misuse of the information provided.

A successful Cadastre should provide security of tenure, be simple and clear, be easily accessible, and provide current and reliable information at low cost.