Regional Technical Platform on Green Agriculture

After a century of land consolidation in Europe – taking stock and looking forward > Why is mandatory landconsolidation is less used after a period of good experiences in Western Europe
Jan Spijkerboer, 04/05/2024
Total Contributions: 4

Why is mandatory landconsolidation is less used after a period of good experiences in Western Europe

Beginning with the first voluntary landconsolidation in 1916 in the Netherlands and the first landconsolidation Law in 1924 a huge programm for the transition of the rural areas was started in 1950 until 2000. Why was this important landconsolidation program stopped. Because of the long period from starting a LC plan to execution ( almost 15 year) or was it because of no support from the farmers associations? Was it political courrage or was it because of finacial benefits. What are the reasons in other countries? 

Re: Why is mandatory landconsolidation is less used after a period of good experiences in Western Europe
Morten Hartvigsen
08/05/2024 08:35:57

Before FAO published the Legal Guide on Land Consolidation in 2020 ( a study on land consolidation legislation and procedures in eight European countries was conducted (Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Poland, Lithuania, Finland, Serbia and Turkiye). The study found that land consolidation is conducted in three very different approaches throughout Europe: i) voluntary land consolidation, ii) majority-based land consolidation and iii) mandatory land consolidation. Follow the link above and see the details. While the Netherlands in the last decades have shifted from a mandatory approach towards a voluntary approach, countries like Germany, Poland, Turkiye and also other European countries continue to implement land consolidation in a mandatory approach so the development seems to me to be maonly in the Netherlands and the answers to the question should be provided by the Dutch experts.

In the mentioned FAO Legal Guide on Land Consolidation, it is recommended to new countries introducting land consolidation instruments to use either a voluntary or a majority-based approach depending on the specific situation in the project area. The first phase of a land consolidation project, the Land Consolidation Feasibility Study, could provide recommendations on the most feasible approach in the specific project area. FAO does not recommend mandatory land consoldiation in countries introducing the instrument.

Re: Why is mandatory landconsolidation is less used after a period of good experiences in Western Europe
Jaroslaw Janus
11/05/2024 06:34:08

The development of tools supporting land management and rural development is (or at least should be) to increasingly consider the rights and opinions of landowners in all types of procedures, which also applies to land consolidation. For this reason, it seems obvious to have gradually moved away from mandatory models of land consolidation, with certain exceptions specified in national laws, as in some cases, this will be the most effective solution. I believe there is no return to large-scale land consolidation programmes in the mandatory model.

Referring to the Polish experience, any attempt to introduce mandatory land consolidation in Poland, which would mean no real influence on the project approval process, does not seem possible. Any attempt at such an approach would be met with protests from local communities when attempting to implement such projects, among others, due to the very negative experiences during the period when legal provisions were in force in the period 1968-1981, when most projects were carried out in the mandatory model.

Currently, if we apply the criteria for the classification of consolidations included in the FAO Legal Guide on Land Consolidation, there is no mandatory land consolidation in Poland, and projects are implemented as majority-based land consolidation. With a few exceptions (e.g., land consolidation carried out in connection with the construction of highways), projects may be implemented only at the request of the majority of landowners or owners of more than half of the project area. In addition, key elements, such as land valuation rules and land valuation results, are subject to separate votes at meetings of all land consolidation participants and require an appropriate majority. Moreover, the issuance of an administrative decision approving the Land Consolidation Plan depends on the lack of objections from the majority of participants of land consolidation project.

Bringing the voluntary land consolidation model into operation in Poland as the dominant model (in accordance with FAO recommendations) will not be easy, and may take decades. The reasons include farmers' very strong attachment to the land, a large and very diverse group of landowners (active and former farmers, and often a very large group of people unrelated to agriculture who participate in consolidation on equal terms with farm owners). The problem is also the large number of project participants involved. For the largest projects, it was close to two thousand.

However, in individual countries, especially those with positive experience with the implementation of mandatory land consolidation in the past or currently, the growth prospects for this type of project may be more optimistic. Certainly, learning about the experiences of countries where the voluntary model works well (especially the Dutch experience) would be valuable.

Re: Why is mandatory landconsolidation is less used after a period of good experiences in Western Europe
Tomas Veršinskas
21/05/2024 08:42:26

From a legal perspective, land consolidation significantly reflects the maturity and flexibility of a country's legal system in balancing private land ownership with public interest. While many countries in Central and Eastern Europe already apply voluntary land consolidation, introducing majority-based and mandatory consolidation proves more complex. In the said region, mandatory land consolidation often revives negative historical experiences and meets resistance from local landowners, lawyers, and policymakers. The majority-based approach offers a more nuanced balance between democratic processes and public interest, yet it too faces opposition in many countries. This resistance often stems from factors beyond legal considerations, including the simple reluctance of mid-level technical lawyers. For them it may be easier to say that any other form of land consolidation than the voluntary one is against the law. It requires much more effort and even professional courage to search for legal solutions which would allow the incorporation of majority-based land consolidation into the national legal system. The introduction of the majority-based land consolidation effort may simply stop here at this technical level, without ever reaching legislatures or the court system, which could scrutinize the concept. The introduction of the majority-based land consolidation approach may also be halted at a policy level. The politicians may be reluctant to introduce a decision-making mechanism, which is not fully voluntary. Often in a socially and/or politically unstable environment this is a risk-taking decision, even if it could serve well the public interest. In many cases both of the aforementioned instances block the majority-based land consolidation (not to mention the mandatory one). North Macedonia is a nice example, how both forms of land consolidation (voluntary and majority-based) may coexist in the country with post-socialist experiences. In many other countries historical stigmas, legal and social uncertainty as well as absence of local knowledge on land consolidation are the main factors that hinder the introduction of majority-based (or even mandatory) land consolidation. The rare exceptions in the region as well as in the well-established legal systems in the West of Europe are very interesting and useful examples to be looked into by the countries wishing to introduce land consolidation.

Re: Why is mandatory landconsolidation is less used after a period of good experiences in Western Europe
Junya Hanada
04/06/2024 02:01:21

I want to share the situation of Japan about the Land Consolidation (LC) concerning the  voluntary land consolidation (=requirng the 100% agreement) and the majority-based land consolidation.

LC project in Japan legally requries the agreements of the majority; requiring more than two-thirds of the benficiary farmers under the Land Improvement Law which includes the Land Consolidation Act in Japan, but actually we can implement the the construction only when we got the 100% agreement of beneficiary farmers.

To explain in more detail, the Government ask to the prefectural government, LC project implementer, to collect the agreement of more than 90% beneficiary farmers to launch the LC project, and the prefectural government needs to continue to persuade those who have not given their consent, and since the construction cannot be carried out unless 100% consent is ultimately obtained, those who have not given their consent are eventually excluded from the beneficiary area before the construction is carried out.

As is stated above, even one opponent can spoil the LC project, and sometimes those situation happens, but 74% of the LC projects are launched with 100% agreements, the average agreements rate is 99%, and more than 1300 LC projects are being implemented by 47 prefectural governments in FY 2024. 

Getting 100% agreements needs much cost of regional governments, so I am interested in situations where projects are forcibly carried out without consent in some countries. 

The concensus building process is very important to successfully implement the LC project. So, later I'll share our investigation of the concenus building process in the ODA project in Myanmar. hopefully to the Land Tenure Journal.