Land Resources

Land-use planning at the national level

Two-way links between planning at different levels, FAO 1996

Land-use planning can be applied at three broad levels: national, district and local. These are not necessarily sequential but correspond to the levels of government at which decisions about land use are taken. Different kinds of decision are taken at each level, where the methods of planning and kinds of plan also differ. However, at each level there is need for a land-use strategy, policies that indicate planning priorities, projects that tackle these priorities and operational planning to get the work done. The greater the interaction between the three levels of planning, the better. The flow of information should be in both directions . At each successive level of planning, the degree of detail needed increases, and so too should the direct participation of the local people.

At the national level, planning is concerned with national goals and the allocation of resources. In many cases, national land-use planning does not involve the actual allocation of land for different uses, but the establishment of priorities for district-level projects.

A national land-use plan may cover:
• land-use policy: balancing the competing demands for land among different sectors of the economy food production, export crops, tourism, wildlife conservation, housing and public amenities, roads, industry;
• national development plans and budget: project identification and the allocation of resources for development;
• coordination of sectoral agencies involved in land use;
• legislation on such subjects as land tenure, forest clearance and water rights. National goals are complex while policy decisions, legislation and fiscal measures affect many people and wide areas. Decision-makers cannot possibly be specialists in all facets of land use, so the planners' responsibility is to present the relevant information in terms that the decision-makers can both comprehend and act on.

Planning at these different levels needs information at different scales and levels of generalization. Much of this information may be found on maps. The most suitable map scale for national planning is one by which the whole country fits on to one map sheet, which may call for a scale from 1:5 million to 1:1 million or larger. District planning requires details to be mapped at about 1:50000, although some information may be summarized at smaller scales, down to 1:250000. For local planning, maps of between 1:20000 and 1:5000 are best. Reproductions of air photographs can be used as base maps at the local level, since field workers and experience show that local people can recognize where they are on the photos.