Education and Profession Building for Land Managers, The Experience of Poland

Andrzej Hopfer, Poland

 F I G Commission 7,Annual Meeting 1996,Budapest, Hungary

One Day International Conference, 18 June 1996

"Land Management in the Process of Transition"


 Land management means, in the widest understanding of the term, management of the territory, the area of e.g. the country. This means actions to the benefit of the two major components of the State - the man - the citizen and the territory he lives in. Each state, each government is to achieve two major objectives:

 - it must care for the citizen, and

- it must care for the territory he lives in.

Land management in Poland and in other places, in addition to the above mentioned general aspects has to accomplish the objectives that can be defined as:

 - social objectives,

- economic objectives, and

- environmental objectives.

 Social objectives are - dismissing the general social objective of avoiding the waste of the overall social property - securing a place to live, work and rest for every citizen.

Economic objectives mean creating opportunities of generating funds for decent living of the citizens possessing or using land, compatible (according to the principles of parity) to other sources of income which are not based on land as either the place for practising in a trade or as a resource producing means for acquisition of such resources.


 Environmental objectives mean achievement of the two above mentioned objectives without deteriorating the status of the natural environment, mainly of the land but also of the waters, plants, animals and air and aiming at a gradual improvement of the state of that environment.

 The three objectives form a unity in that sense that none of them may be achieved separately and that the consequences of progress or general changes in each of them are experienced, although sometimes as positive and at other times as negative, in the other - both.

 This can then be described in the way presented in the following table:

initial state of land management

objectives of land management

(concerning changes in the physical layout)

social economic environmental



new state of land management

(within the limits of each of the above elements)

 Some 5, 10, 15 years ago - the system of rural land management in Poland functioned first of all in the area of land consolidation. We were not unique in that. In the majority of developed countries of the world the term "land consolidation" is treated as synonymous to rural land development.

 However, in Poland rural land development - the domain of the Provincial Offices of Land Survey and Rural Land, is subject to changes in the process of general transformations of the country. The transformation includes mainly:

development of conditions for improving the results of agricultural production,

improvement of the economic status of the producers,

various agricultural and non-agricultural functions (environment and landscape, tourism and recreation),

improving the living standards of the population and finally, most recently,

a conglomerate of objectives with the following components included:

improvement (change) of conditions and results of work of individual farmers,

cooperation in development of rural land owned by the State Treasury and by the communes,

ecological development of rural areas.

The issue of improvement of conditions and results of work of individual farmers can be reviewed in the context of the following options:

 1. Improvement of the internal structure and equipment of individual farms.

Increase of area of farms (purchases, lease) coupled with securing a good internal structure.

Establishment of new farms (purchases and lease).

Establishment of jointly owned farms - group, cooperative, mutually supporting, etc.

Achievement of these objectives requires new or altered legislative and organizational environment which has to be adjusted to the new social and economic situation, new concept of financing such works and finally new instruments and procedures for performance of the tasks.

As concerns the influence of the market economy on the contemporary issues in the area of rural land development the following phenomena can be specified:

 1. The trend for "farmer concept" development of rural areas:

- the decentralized form based upon distribution of land of former State Farms,

- the centralized form based on increasing the area of existing individual farms.

 Market trends in agriculture resulting in "universalization" of preparation of rural land for easy and fragmentary change in use and also physical "purging" the area of its natural variations.

3. Privatization of enterprises, including also the State Farms, which may result,

beside some benefits, in development of unfavourable situations: complete freedom of decisions taken by the user may lead to dismissing the rules recognizing the requirements of ecology oriented development during the initial stages of the new mode management.

The major elements of the modern process of rural land development (land consolidation) are as follows:

 1. Assessment of the demand for land consolidation:

- in case of insufficient natural demand proving and popularizing the benefits

resulting from consolidation,

- in case of excessive demand giving priority of objects classified for consolidation

according to the value of benefits to costs ratio.

2. Approval of a legal concept of the consolidation aiming at securing a variety of options for commencement and conduct of the consolidation process.

3. Principles concerning financing of the consolidation process.

 4. Technical issues of consolidation and in particular associated activities - mainly


 The new or modified tasks of land consolidation include:

 1. So called "real consolidation".

"Secondary" consolidation:

- resulting from normal cycle of division or expansion of farms,

- resulting from influence of market factors stimulating changes in

distribution of agricultural land.

 3. "Superficial" consolidation resulting from the general development of social and economic life.

 As concerns Polish "land" area, the following results were achieved as physical consequences of land management (approximated data concerning the period until 1993): As far as intents (operations) are concerned, Consolidation (frequently strengthened in a complex way, i.e. by elements of land improvement) of around 30% of area of individual farms (i.e. 22.5% of the agricultural use land in the country) has been achieved. Technologically and physically correct - they do not satisfy current requirements and expectations relative to social, economic and environmental aspects. Consequence: agricultural land owned by private farmers continues to be scatttered and it is difficult to assess its use for current and, in particular, future purposes of agriculture in Poland.

 Consolidation or other physical transformation of land formally owned by State Farms and State Land Fund to achieve the status permitting its efficient use according to the principles of large scale farming.

 Farming cooperatives which in 1990 represented a small percentage of the area of agricultural land, have remained, in their majority, in a physically unchanged shape for an extended period of time and they did not report special requirements concerning physical transformation while their infrequent applications were settled by purchase or lease of additional areas.

 During the period of 1990 - 1995 relatively few changes of physical nature occurred in Polish rural land management. They included:

 - slow continuation of the land consolidation activities,

 - establishment - during land consolidation works of independent of such works -

of larger or significantly expanded farms (between 50 and 100 ha),

 - sale of ca. 58,000 ha of agricultural land to individual farmers by the Agency of Agricultural Property of the State Treasury (individual land units sold were

generally up to 20 ha),

 - lease of farms of 100 ha to 500 ha from the Agency of Agricultural Property of the State Treasury, by several individuals or companies,

 - operation of entire State Farms or their parts in unchanged shape managed by administrators or by temporary managers, applied to 66% of land owned by the Agency of Agricultural Property of the State Treasury, i.e. 2.13 million ha,

 - 2.5% of the area owned by the Agency of Agricultural Property of the State Treasury, i.e. ca. 80,000 ha (situation as at the end of 1993) was left "abandoned", waste or used in a very ineffective way.

The objectives for land management in Poland mainly concern obtaining favourable physical consequences  

Policy concerning land management in view of further transformations does not differ much from its form in the past. The elementary unit of physical land management is the result of mapping boundaries of ownership (perpetual usufruct, lease) over the boundaries of use, and in case of agricultural use - also the boundaries determined by agricultural quality of land.

 As changes are possible in the first type of borders, and sometimes are possible in the second type of borders, they are most difficult and occur at the slowest rate as concerns the third type of boundaries, the description and assessment of the physical structure may include:

 - determination of area structure of these elementary physical units,

- determination of the physical distance (or topological characteristics) of such units,

- determination of the possibilities and needs for technical and economic links between specific units.

These are tasks resulting in physical consequences but initiation and performance of such tasks requires researching or establishment of social, economic and environmental bases which is obvious but is not included in the subject of this paper.

 Currently, the following principles for actions which should secure obtaining an objective, positive physical result should be advised: - the units of physical land management should be flexible as concerns their possible use - this applies mainly to relatively uniform approach to areas which are subject of ownership or other limited rights of ownership as well as possible adjustment of use of the agricultural land to current requirements (mainly economic and environmental),

- less concern about the shape (external and internal) of these units and more concern about obtaining their optimum (i.e. minimum permitted) size.

 The specific tasks for land management at the turn of the 21st century are as follows:

Formation of family (after their economic and physical defining) and other (e.g. farmer type) basic physical units of agriculture land.

Distribution, logical and gradual of land owned by the Agency of Agricultural Property of the State Treasury.

Consolidation (or other development) of rural areas.

Securing conditions for other, non-agricultural ways of generating income by the farmers (agrotourism, small business in production and services, professional stimulation of women) using for that purpose physical and technical land management processes.

Preparation of the conditions for keeping out of agricultural use a specific percentage of good and average quality land idle every year (weeds, pests, marking) in case of Poland joining the European Union, as well as taking other adjustment activities.

Preparation (so far an ultimate possibility) for "return to agricultural use" of areas used temporarily for recreation (tourism, forests, waters), landscape development, etc.

Improvement of rural land free market, supported by well developed agricultural credit system.

General objectives for land management




responsibility for achievement of objectives

methods of performance, adjustment to the division of the

Earth surface

according to ownership (State, municipality, private)

according to use (function)

according to other limitations including environmental ones

assessment of achieved results

monitoring of their use

preparation of another cycle of procedures

As it could be read from previous parts of the paper, to perform land management works, the following basic groups of branches of knowledge are used during secondary and academic levels of education:

 - Economic sciences

- Environmental sciences

- Law

- Social sciences

 Then come - as more applicable branches, disciplines presenting all kinds of improvement and development of the land (agriculture, civil engineering, technical and social infrastructure, recreation and tourism, market and trade) and disciplines being used as a tools or "fitting" instruments of land management (information science, statistics, natural and artificial or ‘cultural’ landscape architecture).

 According to Polish law and tradition, specialists for land management are educated and trained mainly in technical and agricultural universities (for physical planning and urban or rural land management) and in so called classic and economical universities (for regional planning and socio-economical "layers" of projects). The yearly number of students studying in these universities in Poland and appropriate faculties amounts to 5000. The number of specialists involved in rural land management works (the easiest group to be identified for its organizational frames created by offices subordinated to Ministry of Agriculture and Food), is gradually diminishing:







number of employees







 The main type of land management projects and works connected with it, i.e. land consolidation has been also diminishing during last years:

Type of work









land consolidation

(in ha)







It is very difficult to present figure concerning other types of works connected with land management like

 - urban land planning,

- land reclamation,

- water drainage, etc.

 for they are largely dispersed among many organizations and companies - the visible feature characterizing them is - nevertheless - the growing number of small in acreage and money involved projects and diminishing number of big complex works.


 Conclusions for the future of land manager profession in Poland are as follows :

enlargement of scope of works which could be generally named "land management",

diminishing of scope of single land management work and cost of such projects,

diminishing the number of specialists involved in performance of projects, but growth of number of types of specialists and represented different branches of knowledge and experience,

growing number of legal acts ruling the land management projects,

growing number of professional associations and societies grouping land management specialists,

development of different types of license needed to perform land management works.


 National Policy;

Land Markets, and

Informal land markets.

In the discussion these items were converted into several questions; is there a national land policy; is there such a thing as a "free" land market anywhere; what are the relationships between land markets and public regulation on land use? What are the characteristics of informal land markets and how does the "informality" influence the cost(s)? In general it is believed that informal land markets increase the transaction costs because the risks increase, but could also signify that the legal and institutional arrangements are too cumbersome and costly.

 National Land Policy

 There were no apparent land policies admitted to, although the UK has a policy of market economy, Government commitment to sustainable development, commerce, and infrastructure; for example whether to build more roads, influences on urban and rural development, and influences on land value and environmental issues.

 Hungary would find purchase of land by foreigners to be restrictive. This could mean Hungarians could be landless if an open market policy was introduced. Along the Austro-Hungarian border there are many illegal ownerships which may never, or at least in the immediate future, be legalised.

 From Nepal the National Land Policy of 1964, gave Government control of land, though ownership and tenancies are allowed. New Zealand and Indonesia both have land policies. In New Zealand it is sustainable development that takes priority. Spatial planning in the Netherlands is very strict. Slovenia has rules governing spatial planning.

 Land Markets

 One definition of the land market from Switzerland was the possibility to execute transactions and obtain rent from land. In Hungary - what is the real value of agricultural land? Slovenia considered the land market to be the transfer of ownership from one to another. In Latvia, it is the possibility to exchange land freely. In the Czech Republic - to buy and sell without restrictions. In Slovakia, it is the possibility to allow land owners to sell, which must also include the transfer of rights, mortgages, and leases, etc. In Hungary, because of cheap agricultural land it is difficult to obtain mortgages. In Denmark there is a 30 hectare restriction for farms, open only to EU citizens who propose to farm the land - this is still thought of as a free market. In Egypt, the price of land relates to seven times the amount of land tax. In Germany there is a free market - with restrictions because owners have social responsibility; restrictions on subdivision; value of land under contract established by two consultant valuers.

 The Benin Govt. controls the markets of land transfer, and banks provide mortgages. In Switzerland land must not be valued by the state but by the private sector. If everything is known about the land it can be fully valued. In Austria land has restrictions through land policy. Vienna has a database for land prices. Finland has collected land price information for 20 years and this affects the market prices derived from the Deeds office. The Netherlands have a free market influenced by Govt. and EU through milk price in the case of agricultural land.

 Globally the landmarket is about the mechanisms of rights in land which influence the price of land. The wide perception in countries in transition is that in fact there is not a market. It is difficult to establish this information publicly in order to establish what the market can achieve. In England, price information from the Land Registry is not within the public domain.

 Informal Land Markets

 Netherlands - informal markets exist in order to avoid 6% tax though legal and economic connection in this form is not secure.

 Australia - the borrowing of money against land without formality.

 Austria - because of restrictions of EU citizens not able to buy land, real value is, therefore, not achieved. Farmers unable to buy land in this circumstance.

 Nepal - not having access to land, though having papers. If there is a problem the legalised mortgages can also be informal.

 Germany - the more there are regulations the more likely informal markets are in order avoid tax.

 Brazil - land could be sold to 3 or 4 different people with the successful person being the first to reach the land registry.

 Austria - price, related to planning permission.

 Latvia - would probably follow informal markets.

Globally - informal markets exist to reduce transaction costs; frequently because the registration process is inhibitive. This results in devaluing the economy of a country, and undermining value of property.

 Rural and Urban Land Markets

 Hungary - differences are that urban more likely to show real estate value, agricultural land is unrealistically low.

 Latvia - two directives to decrease values in future, while rural may need to increase

 Czech - different Ministries and laws inhibit changes though still only one land market ; but with some registry in one institution.

 Switzerland - would not differentiate except through pricing mechanisms.

 Nepal - more concern with environmental protection.

 UK - more concern with property in urban areas


 A land market is about allocation of rights in land. There is a general conception that there is no functioning land market in those countries in transition that we are discussing here, but, transactions with rights in land are going on all the time. There are markets, but information about these do not come to the surface. If we do not get this information to the surface, we can not make use of the market. The potential of markets to promote efficient land use, stimulating the economy, etc, can not be utilized without information about the transactions.