LandVoc - the Linked Land Governance Thesaurus

The Land Portal's mission to improve the discoverability of land-related information by making use of Linked Open Data

There are many sources of information about land, but their visibility, accessibility, consistency and completeness vary enormously. Finding solid evidence upon which to base policy and practice - whether for highly local interventionsor for comparative international studies using aggregated data -involves a lot of work. Poor land users, in particular, face barriers in making their views heard at national, regional and international levels and in finding out about competing plans for the use of their land. In short, work on an already complex but vital development issue is threatened by the lack of good information.

In this context, the Land Portal was created with the aim to bring together and make more accessible information about land and land tenure from as many sources as possible. The Land Portal Foundation has adopted a Linked Open Data Strategy, which contributes to making the content and information available even more discoverable on the vast world wide web. Part of the common Linked Open Data principles is making use of standards. If all content is structured in a standardized way (i.e. the same format or file type and having a URL for each type of information), the content is "machine readable" and therefore, for example, is more likely to show up in search engines.


Standardized vocabularies

All the fields that users are required to fill in when adding a resource to the Land Portal make the "metadata" for the particular resource. Metadata is the information that describes the resource and is what search engines for example draw upon. The more comprehensive and standardized the metadata is, the more discoverable the resource becomes. A strategy that the Land Portal has adopted to standardize metadata for the land-related resources, is to make use of a standardized vocabulary to describe the resource. When a user is looking for information on a particular subject and uses a specific keyword to search for that information online, a lot of relevant information may be lost because the metadata of a particular resource is described with a synonym of the keyword or the user is simply searching in another language. This is especially relevant for the land governance community, as many global or local actors in the sector often use different languages or terminologies to describe the same issue. Making use of a standardized vocabulary that is multilingual,  where synonyms and hierarchies between terms have been identified, makes the process of finding relevant resources a lot easier.



LandVoc - the Linked Land Governance Thesaurus

The Land Portal Foundation has taken the lead in the land governance sector to develop such a standardized vocabulary: LandVoc, the Linked Land Governance Thesaurus. LandVoc is mainly derived from FAO's Agrovoc, the standard Agriculture vocabulary, but links together many other vocabularies designed and/or used by land governance stakeholders on both a global and local level. LandVoc is always a working product, constantly being reviewed and improved. It is important to emphasize that LandVoc is not meant to serve as a glossary for land governance-related issues. The Thesaurus is purely meant to standardize the classification of content and resources, to improve the discoverability of and access to land-related information, from both global and grassroots sources, from all over the world.



The Land Portal has organized the content hosted on its website according to three main overarching categories and ten cross-cutting themes.

Overarching categories

An overarching category reflects the main aspects related to land governance. It must be said that boundaries defining each category are often faded and overlapping, therefore this distinction must be seen as a tool to facilitate information access and retrieval for Land Portal users, rather than a universally valid definition.


The ten Land Portal Themes are virtually positioned at the intersection between all the overarching categories. 

A theme reflects land issues that are particularly important and/or debated at present time. They are transversal with respect to the Overarching Categories.

General context

Finally, the Land Portal recognizes one General Context-Category. 

This final category reflects the fact that land dynamics are not occuring in a vacuum, but they are strongly related to social, economic, environmental and institutional dynamics. 

The relation between land dynamics and the general context is mutual: the latter influences the former and vice versa. 

For example: a dataset or indicator reflecting the participation of women to political life worldwide would fit into the General Context Category, while a dataset or indicator about women's access to land worldwide would fit more in the theme of Land & Gender.


The terms or keywords form the body of the LandVoc vocabulary. We call them 'concepts', as is often done in standardized vocabularies. The Agrovoc user guide describes concepts as: "anything we want to represent or "talk about" in our domain. A concept could also be considered the set of all its labels used to express it in various languages. All concepts are identified by dereferenceable URIs (= URL), such as". The concepts are used to 'tag' the resources.



If you have any further questions, remarks or suggestions regarding LandVoc, please do not hesitate to contact us at:


Browse through the Land Portal using LandVoc

Below you can find all the overarching categories, themes and the concepts from the latest version of LandVoc. The concepts that are featured below the Overarching Categories and Themes are those concepts which are considered to have a 'fixed relationship' with the corresponding Overarching Category or Theme. This means that whenever a resource is 'tagged' with the particular concept, the resource would always fit under the corresponding Overarching Category or Theme.

Overarching categories


Forest Tenure

The profession embracing the science, art, and practice of creating, managing, using, and conserving forests and associated resources for human benefit and in a sustainable manner to meet desired goals, needs, and values.

Source: SAFNet Dictionary

Land & Food Security

Land and Food

Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and foodpreferences for an active and healthy life.

Source: FAO

Land & Gender

land and gender

Despite progress on women’s rights, rights to land and security of tenure are not enjoyed equally by women and men in many parts of the world. This goes against international human rights, and also impacts negatively on households and the economy.

Gender issues related to land are complicated. They involve sensitive social and cultural territories and challenge deeply rooted power structures. 

Source: GLTN / Gender Evaluation Criteria

Land & Investments

Commercial Pressure on Land

Commercial pressures, land grabs, investments, etc.—the words vary according to the positions of those who use them (...).

The rapid changes in prices on certain markets and anticipation of probable estimated price rises are at the root of the taking control of large amounts of land and manifestations of interest in the purchase or long-term rental of land that we have been seeing for several months. These goods are essentially the following:


An increasingly large global market has emerged around agrofuels, as a substitutes for fossil energy. The demand for and price of agrofuels still depend heavily on the public policies of certain states that make it mandatory to include a percentage of these products in the fuel used for transport, or that grant them tax advantages and subsidies. Otherwise, the development of agrofuels is directly linked to the price of oil.

Staple Foods

The prices of the principal food products rose sharply in 2007 and early 2008 for various reasons including notably the growth of agrofuels, weather problems in previous years, a reduction in security stores, and an increase in demand among the middle classes of some emerging countries. This rise reverses a 100-year-long downward trend that had been interrupted in the mid-1970s by a fleeting period of rising prices.

Forest Resources

Here, we must distinguish between two types of goods of very different natures: (1) timber and non-wood forest products, the demand for which has increased with the growth of emerging countries, as has the demand for mineral commodities; and (2) environmental services, with the establishment of markets for pollution rights, carbon credits, that make it possible to obtain resources in exchange for planting trees or through mechanisms—which are for now still voluntary— based on promises not to cut down forests (REDD mechanisms).

What is more, for a more or less long time, a certain number of other markets have generated pressures on land.


Already, the growth of tourism has long generated increasing interest in coastal zones and all areas of particular interest because of the beauty of the landscape, the wealth of flora and fauna, and/or the possibility of engaging in specific leisure activities. Mining and Energy Resources This is not new, but the sharp rise in demand from emerging countries has increased pressure on regions and countries that have mineral or oil wealth.


The large increase in the percentage of the population living in cities is causing urban zones to expand, usually spilling over onto farm land. This can create conflicts and very strong pressures

Source:  "Commercial Pressures on Land Worldwide. Issues and Conceptual Framework". AGTER and International Land Coalition,  April 2009, page 4.

Land Conflicts

Land Conflicts

A “land conflict” involves competing claims to large areas of land by groups, of a breadth and depth not easily resolved within existing law. There is often no consensus on the rules to be applied, and the parties may have quite different understandings of the nature of the conflict. As used in this paper, “conflict” implies tension and the danger of violence, but not violence unless this is specified. Longstanding potentials for conflict based in structural or other fundamental problems may be the result of “trigger” events turned violent. 

Source: USAID

Land Stakeholders & Institutions

Land Stakeholders & Institutions

A stakeholder is anyone or any institution who has interests in, or is affected by, an issue or activity or transaction, and therefore has a natural right to participate in decisions relating to it. 

There may be more than one stakeholder, or stakeholder group, claiming an interest in the land use on a particular area of land.

As examples, a farmer is a stakeholder in relation to the distribution or management of irrigation water from a common source, or as regards decisions on grazing rights on communal land. The term can also be applied to groups, as when several groups have an interest in, or are affected by, the exploitation of the water from a reservoir or products extracted from a forest. Stakeholders include those individuals or groups, such as women or indigenous communities, who have genuine and legitimate claims on use, but whose opinion may not be valued in current negotiations for cultural or religious reasons. Groups resident outside the area, such as non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and research institutions, can also be stakeholders. Also the government of a country may have ministries with the position of stakeholders. The concept can be extended to include unborn generations who have a future interest in the resource.

Source: FAO

Land, Climate change & Environment

Climate change & Environment

Environment, as a cross-cutting issue, addresses global challenges of environmental impact related to land use, land management and land tenure, including the issues surrounding climate change and natural resource management.

Environmental and land tenure challenges include the following:

  • landlessness that drives poor urban and rural people to occupy and misuse fragile ecosystems;
  • tenure insecurity undermining investment incentives and leading to environmental mismanagement in urban as well as in rural areas;
  • large scale land acquisitions and investments may lead to tenure insecurity of poor and vulnerable groups and environmental damages;
  • encroachment in particularly vulnerable and valuable habitats;
  • increasing threats in coastal areas due to sea water rise and severe weather risk;
  • shortage of arable and liveable lands results to more disputes and conflicts;
  • increasing tensions between land, land tenure arrangements and land use;
  • increasing land fragmentation in densely populated areas;
  • deforestation and forest degradation leading to carbon emissions and loss of biodiversity.

Source: GLTN

Rangelands, Drylands & Pastoralism

Rangelands, Drylands & Pastoralism

Rangelands are grasslands, shrublands, woodlands, wetlands, and deserts that are grazed by domestic livestock or wild animals. Types of rangelands include tallgrass and shortgrass prairies, desert grasslands and shrublands, woodlands, savannas, chaparrals, steppes, and tundras.

Pastoralism is the branch of agriculture concerned with the raising of livestock. "Pastoralism" generally has a mobile aspect, moving the herds in search of fresh pasture and water (in contrast to pastoral farming, in which non-nomadic farmers grow crops and improve pastures for their livestock). 


Drylands conventionally are defined in terms of water stress: as terrestrial areas where the mean annual rainfall (including snow, fog, hail, etc) is lower than the total amount of water evaporated to the atmosphere.

Sources: & Wikipedia & IUCN  

Socio-Economic & Institutional Context

Socio-Economic & Institutional Context

This theme include all information which are not directly related to land issues, but are important to understand the general context in which land dynamics occur. For instance, this theme includes socio-economic, demographic and institutional information.