Land Consolidation – The Fundamentals to Guide Practice

FIG Commission 8 - Spatial Planning and Development


Marije Louwsma
Walter de Vries
Morten Hartvigsen


This publication as a .pdf-file (78 pages - 5.2Mb)


Land consolidation is a specialised land policy instrument, which has already been on the agenda within the FIG community for a long time. Each year there are papers submitted about land consolidation at the FIG Working Week or Congress. Now, we decided to bundle the available international experiences, insights, and knowledge into a FIG publication. It is my great pleasure to present this land consolidation publication to you.

In view of climate change, sustainable land use and development is more urgent than ever. Land consolidation is a land policy instrument that can consider spatial developments in a coherent and comprehensive approach, integrating various sectoral policy domains. Water management, soil quality, environmental values, protected nature reserves, agricultural developments, infrastructure, cultural heritage, rural development can all be considered – at least their spatial component – in land consolidation projects.

This FIG publication aims to provide an overview of relevant topics for land consolidation practice, including different forms of land consolidation, public participation, valuation, developing the land consolidation plan, GIS tools and monitoring and evaluation of projects and programmes. It seeks to find a level of detail that provides insights for responsible agencies and professionals involved in land consolidation.

Hopefully, this publication of commission 8 will inspire and support government agencies, decision makers and professionals to implement land consolidation projects and programmes in a sustainable, inclusive, and participatory way. The expertise of the surveyor can guide the application to enhance an inclusive, just, and fair reallocation process in various tenure systems and land administration traditions. As such, it complements existing publications about land consolidation such as FAO’s recent legal guide on land consolidation.

Marije Louwsma
Chair of FIG Commission 8 – Spatial Planning and Development


Land consolidation is a well proven land policy instrument. Some European countries have a land consolidation tradition that goes back hundred years or more. As a land policy instrument, land consolidation can be used for the implementation of government policies related to agriculture, rural development, nature conservation and environment. The traditional objective has been to facilitate agricultural development by reducing land fragmentation. Nowadays, the objectives have extended to a multi-purpose approach as well.

The underpinning principle of land consolidation is the exchange of land rights among right holders with the aim to improve effective and efficient land use in rural areas. The exchange and redistribution of land rights can be – and often is – combined with the construction of infrastructure, such as the extension or enhancement of roads, the development of basic services, the connection of ecological networks, the provision of water management or flood protection measures, or the arrangement of climate resilience structures in the area. In urban areas, land readjustment (on urban land parcels or construction land) is the equivalent of land consolidation in rural areas.

Due to international variations, a common understanding of the terminology related to land consolidation is missing. Different forms of land consolidation (voluntary land exchange, voluntary land consolidation, majority-based land consolidation, mandatory land consolidation) are further explained. Depending on the objectives a simpler small-scale form of land consolidation like voluntary land exchange can be chosen or a mandatory form can be followed whereby multiple objectives can be realised. The latter form is more suitable in an area with complex tasks with potentially conflicting interests of stakeholders. Since this form of land consolidation is mandatory it requires a legal framework that provides safeguards to secure the land rights of involved landowners and users.

Land consolidation directly affects the area, and in particular those who hold land rights. Therefore, it is recommended to involve the public in the process. Public participation offers the possibility of revealing different views, getting to know the local context, identifying potential conflicts, and supporting decision-making. The level of public engagement depends on the form of land consolidation, where the public’s potential influence should be the primary consideration in designing participatory processes. Voluntary land exchange and voluntary land consolidation provide a high level of public participation, giving involved landowners and users a voice in the design of the reallocation plan. If the result does not meet their expectations, they can opt out since participation in the project is on a voluntary basis. Public participation in majority-based land consolidation and mandatory land consolidation has a more formalised character. Consequently, public participation is shaped differently. The selected tools for public participation need to meet the requirements of the land consolidation process.

The exchange of land rights requires the valuation of the exchanged land as to settle any differences in value between the right holders. It is one of the key principles to guarantee a fair and inclusive process upon the reallocation of land rights. In general, valuation in land consolidation relies on two approaches. The relative value approach classifies parcels in levels of value reflecting their respective productive capacity for agriculture or other land uses. The market-based approach aims to reflect the discrete monetary value of parcels based on the estimated market value. This approach requires a mature land market, where sufficient land transactions take place to provide sufficient information about current land prices. The relative value and market-based approach are either employed based on mass appraisal or on individual appraisal of parcels.

Valuation may serve different roles based on the form of land consolidation. Apart from the financial arrangements to be made, the valuation can also guide individual decisions by right holders in a voluntary approach. An involved landowner weights and assesses proposals for exchange based on the value of the land and its financial consequences. In majority-based and mandatory forms of land consolidation, valuation is essential to guarantee that right holders receive an equivalent size and quality of land (the ‘at least as well off’ principle).

The land consolidation plan includes the new layout of land parcels, related land rights and the right holders. The development of the land consolidation plan is usually seen as the task of a small multi-disciplinary team. Surveyors are indispensable members of the team, since they bring in tenure and land administration knowledge to guarantee legal certainty for all right holders involved and expertise concerning boundary and areas measurements and calculation. The extent to which the situation in the area changes depends on many aspects such as the objectives of the land consolidation project, the physical characteristics, the form of land consolidation, and the wishes and consent of involved stakeholders.

The implementation of a land consolidation project requires secure data handling of both geospatial data (e.g. cadastral map) and administrative data (e.g. land rights). Using GIS or other digital tools for the implementation of land consolidation enables the automation of processes, reduces the risk of human error – if well designed – and allows for greater efficiency. Most countries use their own set of GIS tools for lack of a standardised solution.

Land consolidation projects and programmes require sufficient funding for implementation. To ensure accountability and transparency, monitoring the progress of resources used, the outputs delivered, and impact of the activities upon implementation of a project or programme is important. A set of relevant indicators can measure to what extent a project or programme has been implemented according to the plan (monitoring) and achieved the desired result (evaluation).

In view of climate change, sustainable land use and development is more urgent than ever. Land consolidation is a land policy instrument that can consider spatial developments in a coherent and comprehensive approach, integrating various sectoral policy domains. The exchange of land rights between right holders remains the underpinning principle of land consolidation. Nevertheless, the guiding principles may change. Land may be valued differently for example based on changing perspectives on land as a commodity. Technical advancement of the instrument may provide one path, whereas socio-economic equity – i.e. access to land – can lead to other pathways. In the end, the puzzle still needs to be solved with all stakeholders involved, balancing current and future needs for a sustainable rural development.

Marije Louwsma
Chair of FIG Commission 8, 2019–2022


1 A general introduction to land consolidation
2 Different forms of land consolidation
3 Public participation
4 Valuation
5 Developing the land consolidation plan
6 GIS tools
7 Monitoring and evaluation of land consolidation programmes and projects
8 The way forward

Read the full FIG Publication 79 in pdf

Copyright © The International Federation of Surveyors (FIG),  September 2022.

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International Federation of Surveyors (FIG)
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Published in English
Copenhagen, Denmark
ISSN 2311-8423 (pdf)
ISBN 978-87-92853-67-7 (pdf)

Published by
International Federation of Surveyors (FIG)
Layout: Lagarto


Land Consolidation – The Fundamentals to Guide Practice
Authors: Marije Louwsma, Walter de Vries, Morten Hartvigsen

Published in English
Published by The International Federation of Surveyors (FIG), September 2022
ISSN 2311-8423 (pdf)
ISBN 978-87-92853-67-7 (pdf)