International Land Measurement Standards (ILMS)

Part 5 Key definitions

For the purpose of these standards the following terms are defined.

Boundary: A boundary is a line that marks the limits of an area. Boundaries can be physical and legal, and take many forms. This includes straight or curvilinear surfaces between known coordinated points, or physical boundaries based on physical features.

Building: An independent structure forming part of a property (see IPMS).

FAO VGGT: Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations Voluntary Guidelines.

Fit for Purpose: The Fit-For-Purpose concept involves applying the spatial, legal and institutional methodologies that are most adequate and available for the purpose of providing secure tenure for that specific land parcel by addressing the current constraints. This allows for incremental improvement over time.

LADM: Land Administration Domain Model.

Land: A defined spatial area of the planet that can be uniquely identified in two or three dimensions by boundaries. Land includes all natural features and buildings, improvements and structures of aesthetic value in, on, under or over the land.

Land Information System (LIS): A tool for legal, administrative and economic decision making, and an aid for planning and development which is often described as consisting s of a database(s) containing spatially referenced land related data for a defined area and of procedures and techniques for the systematic collection, updating, processing and distribution of that data When we use the term LIS in an ILMS context, we are using it in a more abstract sense to make it universally applicable rather than limiting the definition to that of a particular implementation in a specific jurisdiction. LIS often comprises multiple systems and databases held by a number of organisations at the federal, regional and municipal level. Therefore, the reader may find it helpful to think of LIS as a system of systems rather than a single unified system.

Land Use: The formal designation by a governing authority of the use to which land may be put (e.g. designation of industrial, residential, commercial, retail, recreational and other uses under the master plan.)

Land use can also be used to signify an existing land use separate from its formal designation.

Land Valuation: An opinion of the value of a land asset or liability on a stated basis, at a specified date. Unless limitations are agreed in the terms of engagement this will be provided after an inspection, and any further investigations and enquiries that are appropriate, having regard to the nature of the asset and the purpose of the valuation.

Legal Boundary: An intangible or invisible surface dividing one person's property from that of another. It is an exact line having no thickness or width. In fixed boundary systems, the coordinates of the boundary points are precisely established, often monumented on the ground and have precedence in law. Usually boundary surveys can only be carried out by licensed or publicly appointed surveyors who represent the state and may have quasi-judicial authority. In general boundary systems, the boundary is rarely identified with any precision either on the ground or in conveyances or transfers. It is not explicitly shown on topographic survey mapping, although in practice many topographic features are coincident with legal boundaries. Ultimately the exact position of a boundary, if disputed, can be determined only by the relevant courts in their jurisdiction.

Land Parcel: A portion of land variably described as a 'land parcel', 'immovable property', or 'real estate', etc., which becomes a 'land asset' when it is linked, through recognised ownership, right or interest of people and legal entities in that land. In describing the land parcel, efforts should be made to determine the extent to which the 'skies above and the soil below' are included or excluded in that land parcel, as property law changes from country to country.

Land Tenure: The rules and arrangements connected with owning specified interests in the land. This can be defined as the relationship, whether legally or customarily defined, among people, as individuals or groups, with respect to land and associated natural resources (water, trees, minerals, wildlife, etc.). Rules of tenure define how property rights in land are to be allocated within societies. Land tenure systems determine who can use what resources for how long, and under what conditions.

Physical Boundary: A physical feature that we can see such as a fence, wall or a hedge, which may, coincidentally, also follow the line of a legal boundary. The legal boundary may run within the physical boundary structure, but it might just as easily run along one particular side of the structure, or include all or any part of an adjoining roadway or stream. Living boundary structures, such as hedges, can be prone to a certain degree of movement. For example, if a hedge is left untended it might take root where it touches the ground and become very wide, making its original line hard to discern. So even if it is clear that the legal boundary ran along the hedge, identifying this boundary on the ground may become very difficult.

Public Legal Restrictions: A number of restrictions on land are a result of actions by government units. Many restrictions, however, are created by land developers. Such devices take several forms and can be either positive or negative in nature. They include defeasible fees, easements, equitable servitudes, and restrictive covenants.

Services: Services include all infrastructural services necessary to ensure the functional performance of the land as described. In urban areas this includes access to metalled roads, piped water, piped sewerage, electricity and telecommunications. In rural areas this will include access to metalled roads, access to water, electricity and sewage treatment facilities.

Site/Land Area: The total spatial area of land contained within the boundaries of a site or parcel of land. It is the area measured within defined boundaries, denominated in metric or imperial measurements. The accuracy of area measurements is dependent on the level of accuracy of the survey on which they are based and the purpose for which they are carried out.

STDM: Social Tenure Domain Model.