Cadastral surveys and records of rights in land


Based on the 1953 study by
Sir Bernard O. Binns

Revised by
Peter F. Dale

The designations employed and the presentation of material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

ISBN 92-5-103627-6

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This paper was first produced in 1953 as one of a group of connected studies on land tenure and related subjects undertaken as part of the programme developed in response to Resolution No. 8 of the Sixth Session of the Conference of FAO.

Some of the studies in this group were intended to clarify the issues in the very complicated and controversial subject of land reform by providing a reasonably concise and balanced presentation of the subject, both in its general features and in the special aspects revealed in particular types of land tenure and for particular development projects. Others were meant to give direct assistance to those engaged in studies or programmes of action in the field of agrarian affairs by providing guidance on methodology and the use of technical terms, etc.

The present paper belongs to the second of these groups but has, it is thought, a much broader justification than that just suggested. The importance of large-scale maps to the success of almost every activity in connection with agricultural and rural development is so great, and so commonly overlooked, that it is felt that to reissue this paper, written from the point of view of FAO, would be fully justified even if the subject were not so closely related to agrarian reform.

The original studies were based mainly on existing and readily available information and experience, and were to be regarded not as products of detailed research, but as papers on which subsequent research and action could be based. They thus made no claim to be exhaustive and no pretentions to authority other than that given by the knowledge and experience of the authors who had, in all cases, been chosen as persons or institutions possessing or having access to unusual knowledge and experience in the fields in which they dealt. The intentions of this paper remain as before which is to produce a work that can be of equal use to FAO field officers as well as to officers of member governments engaged in similar work and to ministers and other high governmental authorities responsible for framing agrarian policy.

Sir Bernard Binns, KBE, who was the original author of the paper, was for five years head of the Department of Settlements and Land Records in Burma (now Myanmar), which was responsible for the cadastral survey and land registers, and he was also for two years, as Financial Commissioner, responsible for the whole land revenue administration of which the Land Records Department was an integral part. Altogether his connection with the department covered some 14 years. He had thus long personal and practical experience of the subject and had drawn freely on this experience in writing the paper. This revised version of Sir Bernard Binns' paper has been prepared by Peter Dale, a Chartered Surveyor with considerable experience in the field. He has attempted to update the original material in the light of changing technology and contemporary views on the function of a cadastre. Much of the original material remains unchanged since it contains fundamental truths that are as valid today as they were in the 1950s. The opportunity has however been taken to refer to developments in information technology and the manner in which these impinge on modern land registration and cadastral systems.

Rome © FAO 1995

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Land Surveys and Maps

Cadastral Maps

Air Surveys and Cadastral Maps

Registers of Rights

Computerisation of Maps and Registers

Principles to be Followed in the Preparation and Maintenance of Records of Rights

Direct Advantages of Cadastral Surveys and Registration of Rights

The Place of Cadastral Surveys and Registration of Rights in Rural Development

Doubts and Fears

Concluding Remarks

Further Reading