Regional Technical Platform on Green Agriculture

After a century of land consolidation in Europe – taking stock and looking forward > Background and rationale for the online discussion
Gasbarri, Valentina (REU) Gasbarri, 28/03/2024
Total Contributions: 0

Background and rationale for the online discussion

The European land consolidation tradition    

Land consolidation projects and programmes started in many countries in Western and Central Europe in the years after the WWI ended in 1918. In Poland, the first land consolidation law was adopted in 1923. In the Netherlands and Denmark similar laws were adopted in 1924. A few other countries began even earlier, including Germany and Austria. However, the type of land reform that we know as land consolidation has now a century long tradition.    

Objectives, approaches and procedures for land consolidation has in most countries changed significantly during this century. Land consolidation was traditionally an instrument for agricultural development with the focus of improving inefficient farm structures by reducing land fragmentation and facilitating farm enlargement.    

In most countries in Western Europe with active land consolidation programme the objectives of the instrument has gradually developed since the 1980s towards a multi-purpose approach where also non-agricultural objectives such as nature restoration, environmental protection and most recently climate change adaptation and mitigation are integrated with the traditional objective of agricultural development.    

Land consolidation is in many countries supported by land banking. This is in particular important when private owned agricultural land is taken out of production as part of the implementation of the mentioned non-agriculture public projects. In such case, land consolidation in combination with land banking can allow landowners and farmers to be compensated in additional land as an alternative to expropriation and a monetary compensation.    

Land consolidation in Central and Eastern Europe    

After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and the countries in Eastern Europe began their transition to market economy most of these countries conducted land reform where agricultural land that was collectivized after WWII was privatized either through restitution of land rights to the former private landowners that had lost their rights during the collectivization or equally distributed to the rural population.    

In many countries this resulted on farm structures with excessive land fragmentation and small farm sizes, usually around 1 – 3 ha. In order to improve such farm structures and make agricultural production more efficient and productive, most countries in Central and Eastern Europe have from the 200s onwards introduced land consolidation instruments while only few of those countries so far have fully operational national land consolidation instruments and programme.    

FAO has so far supported 12 programme countries in Central and Eastern Europe with the introduction of land consolidation, published technical guidelines and established the informal technical network known as LANDNET facilitating the sharing of good practices and experiences between the countries in the region and beyond.  

Rationale for this online discussion

Land consolidation and land banking instruments have great potential to support transformation towards sustainable local food systems and achieving the Sustainable Development Gorals (SDGs) After a century with implementation of land consolidation projects in Europe, it is now time to take stock of the lessons learned and discuss the way forward. 

Deadline for contributions

10 June 2024