Cadastre Definitions Glossary

The Cadastre Working Group (CWG, formerly Permanent Committee on Cadastre) has put together a glossary of terms around all things Cadastre to establish consistency in communications and documentation from ICSM. If you have any feedback or additional terms you think should be added to the glossary, contact the CWG Chair, Bradley Slape at

Cadastre 2034: Powering Land and Real Property

Cadastre 2034: Powering Land and Real Property is a national strategy for Cadastral Reform and Innovation for Australia. It has been prepared by the Permanent Committee on Cadastre; a Subcommittee of ICSM.

The strategy captures the trends and articulates the vision of what we believe the community will require of our cadastral system by 2034. It identifies where current information falls short of today’s consumer expectations, and considers the user scenarios that could trigger changing needs in the future. Cadastre 2034 has been developed with input from a New Zealand perspective and Trans–Tasman collaboration remains an important feature of this strategy.

The vision for Cadastre 2034 is for a cadastral system that enables people to readily and confidently identify the location and extent of all rights, restrictions and responsibilities related to land and real property.
In future, citizens will know what can be done on land (rights), what cannot be done (restrictions) and what must be done (responsibilities).

Our mission is to promote and support innovation and provide the leadership, coordination and standards necessary to deliver a unified cadastral system that can be leveraged to find sustainable solutions to meet emerging needs and opportunities.

Available documentation in pdf format: 

Interactive version of Strategy 
(including video presentations - 4.61MB)
Print friendly version of Strategy (2.15 MB)


Cadastral boundary system concepts and terminology

The cadastral boundary system can be represented using a triangular model based on the following descriptions:

  • the view of lawyers and judges that a boundary is a legal concept – perhaps seen as a zero width line (2D) or surface (3D)
  • the view of surveyors that a boundary is a socio-technical concept – having physical and technical limits to its definition as well as the social limits of how accurately the affected parties (landowners) need it to be defined in space.
  • physical boundaries are the tangible evidence of surveyed boundaries that are the accepted limits of land use in the physical world – e.g. boundary marks, natural boundaries, fences, walls, a visible line between different types of land use or cultivation, etc.
  • documentary boundaries are the documented evidence of boundaries that had been accepted and agreed at the time of their creation – e.g. survey plans, titles, field notes, supporting documents, transfers, etc.

A Spatial Cadastre is defined as the official jurisdictional spatial representation of cadastral parcels and their boundary points and lines.

Diagram showing cadastre links

Source:  CRCSI Research Report Upgrading Spatial Cadastres in Australia and New Zealand: Functions, Benefits & Optimal Spatial Uncertainty 

Spatial Cadastral Improvement Levels

The following terminology and descriptions identify seven levels of Spatial Cadastral Improvement (i.e. spatial upgrade of the Spatial Cadastre)

Level Name Description Uncertainty
0 Graphical Paper Map Original paper cadastral index maps High (relative)
High (positional)
1 Digitised Spatial Cadastre Spatial database generated by digitisation of the Graphical Paper Maps. Following lodgement, new cadastral survey boundaries are added to the unchanged digitised boundaries. This replicates the paper map maintenance process. High (relative)
High (positional)
2a Survey-maintained Spatial Cadastre - Fitted Following lodgement, new cadastral surveys are integrated by generating a best fit of the new surveyed boundaries to the parent parcel which is adjusted in-situ to receive the new survey information. Medium-High (relative)
High (positional)
2b Survey-maintained Spatial Cadastre -Rubber-sheeted Following lodgement, new cadastral surveys are integrated by fitting the new surveyed boundaries and rubber-sheeting abutting and nearly parcels in the vicinity to reduce distortion and to improve the parcel location within the map grid. Medium-High (relative)
Medium-High (positional)
3 Spatially-aligned Cadastre Spatial Cadastre systematically upgraded through alignment with other spatial datasets (including a focus on sufficient geodetic survey connections to boundaries) that are indicative of boundary location. Medium (relative)
Medium (positional)
4 Survey-improved Spatial Cadastre Spatial Cadastre upgraded by systematic back-capture and adjustment of sufficient survey measurements and all boundary dimensions from historical surveys plus new survey connections to geodetic control. At this level survey-compliance is not achieved. Low-Medium (relative)
Low-Medium (positional)
5 Survey-compliant Spatial Cadastre Cadastral coordinates derived from adjustment of survey measurements and boundary dimensions satisfy relative, survey, and positional uncertainty standards in the survey regulations. Level 5 differs only from level 4 in respect of compliance with survey regulations. Low (relative)
Low (positional)
6 Survey Coordinate Cadastre Designated coordinates of cadastral boundaries are expressly assigned a status in the hierarchy of evidence for survey definition but are not definitive. Low (relative)
Low (positional)
7 Legal Coordinate Cadastre Designated coordinates are given primary legal status as conclusive evidence for survey definition (in the absence of a proven error). Zero in theory (relative)
Zero in theory (positional)

Source:  CRCSI Research Report Upgrading Spatial Cadastres in Australia and New Zealand: Functions, Benefits & Optimal Spatial Uncertainty 


Comparison of Cadastral Systems

In 2009 and 2010 New Zealand and each Australian State and Territory completed two separate and comprehensive spreadsheets of questions related to the administration of their cadastral systems. The results of these surveys have been compiled into a single document titled "Australian and New Zealand Cadastral Systems - Questions and Answers" as a PDF document or the Word version.