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Geoinformation and Vermessung
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The Federal Republic of Germany is situated in the heart of Europe
with nine neighbor countries. Germany is a link between East and
West and between Scandinavia and the Mediterranean. It covers
an area of about 357,000 km2, 876 km from north to south and 640
km from west to east. The total length of the countries borders
is 3,758 km. The terrain consists of a variety of landscapes,
from coastal lowlands in the north, the central upland range to
the Alpine foothills in the south and the Bavarian Alps with the
highest point, Zugspitze (2,962 m).
The Federal Republic of Germany is a densely populated country.
Approximately 82 million inhabitants live here, which corresponds
to a population density of 230 persons per square kilometre. The
comparative figure for the European Union is 116.
Areas of high population density have formed over the last decades
along both sides of the Rhine valley (Rhine axis) and in the periphery
of the Rhenish-Westphalian industrial area. Population density
has also increased in the Ems region and around the cities of
Bremen, Hanover, Braunschweig, Hamburg, Munich, Nuremberg and
In 2002, the gross domestic product at current prices amounted
to 2,112.40 billion €. Upon price adjustment, the increase from
2001 was 0.2 %. German economy is based on industry. 12 million
people are working in this sector whilst only 1 million Germans
work in the agricultural sector. Increasing importance gets the
trade and communication sector.
For centuries the German map showed a patchwork of smaller and bigger
independent kingdoms and principalities. The most important changes
in the modern age resulted from the Napoleonic wars at the beginning
of the 19th century, the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, the First
and the Second World War. After the latter Germany was divided,
and the country's largest state Prussia, was dissolved. Most of
the states as we know them today were established after 1945, but
they have largely retained their ethnic traditions and characteristics
and some of the old boundaries. Until Germany was reunited in 1990,
the Federal Republic consisted of 11 states, which had been created
in the former Western occupation zones and had adopted democratic
constitutions between 1946 and 1957. In the Soviet-occupied zone,
the later GDR five states were likewise formed but these were soon
replaced by a centralized administration. After the first free elections
in 1990 these five states were recreated with boundaries largely
conforming to those prior to 1952. On 3 October 1990 the GDR acceded
to the Federal Republic of Germany and Berlin became the capital
of the unified Germany.
Current Political and Administrative
The political and administrative principles in the Federal Republic
of Germany are fixed in the constitution, the Basic Law since
1949. Germany is a republic and a democracy. The head of state
is the Federal President, elected for a period of five years by
the Federal Convention, which convenes only for this purpose.
His tasks are mainly of a representational nature. The Bundestag
is the parliament of the Federal Republic elected by the people
every four years. The Federal Government consists of the Federal
Chancellor, who chairs the Cabinet and is head of government.
The Chancellor alone chooses the ministers and determines their
number and their responsibilities.
The Federal Republic consists of 16 Länder (states). These states
are not mere provinces but states endowed with their own powers.
Each has a constitution, which must be consistent with the republican,
democratic and social principles embodied in the Basic Law. Subject
to these conditions they can shape their constitutions as they
see fit. The Bundesrat represents the 16 states and participates
in the legislative process and administration of the Federation.
The members of the Bundesrat are not elected by the people but
of members of the state governments or their representatives.
Depending on the size of their population the states have three
to six votes, which may only be cast as a block.
More than half of all bills require the formal approval of the
Bundesrat, especially bills that concern vital interests of the
states. In all other cases the Bundesrat only has a right to objection,
which can be overruled by the Bundestag.
The Basic Law determined the powers of the states and in which
areas states are allowed to make their own laws. Legislation and
administration in the field of cadastral law is in the hands of
Historical Outline of Cadastral
Security of land tenure in Germany has a tradition of some centuries.
The forms of land registration in former centuries had great variety
because of the great number of independent states on the territory
of the present Federal Republic of Germany. The basic laws have
been quite different as well, because since the end of the 30
years war in 1648 states like Prussia or Saxony have been completely
At the beginning of the 19th century in some of the kingdoms
cadastral systems have been established for taxation purposes.
In some of the western provinces the establishment of cadastral
systems for taxation purposes are based on the cadastres that
were established by Napoleon in the occupied areas left of the
river Rhine. Until 1876 the cadastre in Prussia was completed.
Although the main purpose for the establishing of a cadastre was
taxation of land, the idea of using maps and records for further
purposes of governmental activities was implemented in the cadastral
systems from the beginning.
After the German Reich was founded in 1871, the need of standardisation
of the private law was evident. Since January 1, 1900 the common
private law exists for the entire country. In this context the
land registration system for the whole country has been established.
This land registration system (in German terms called "Grundbuch")
contents all rights of ownership and other rights on land and
buildings. With establishing this system the importance of good
working cadastral system grew very fast. The description of the
land parcels (parcel identifier and cadastral maps) became the
official and legal register of parcels as a part of the land register.
Cadastre developed from a system for taxation of land to a register
to guarantee the right of land tenure.
After 1934 the results of the official soil assessment are recorded
in the cadastre. This was the first step into the direction of
a multi-purposed cadastre.
In these days the cadastre fulfils all legal demands and demands
of administration and the private sector. It is a basic Land Information
System (LIS) of great variety and flexibility in planning, environmental
protection etc. Maps and cadastral records in most parts of Germany
are stored in computer systems. Although cadastre in Germany is
in the responsibility of the 16 states the computerised systems
are unique with some small exceptions. These systems are the automated
cadastral map (ALK) and the automated property register (ALB).
The constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany accords responsibility
for legislation around the land register to the Federal Republic
whereas the states make the laws concerning the property cadastre.
Interstate bodies (working group of state survey agencies) ensure
uniformity of the property cadastre.
The land registration offices are part of the administration
of justice in the 16 German states. The jurisdiction of the land
registry officials, the form of establishing and maintaining the
land register are manifested in the GBO and in additional orders
of the federal minister of justice. The regulations of the organisation
of the land registry are given by the states' ministries of justice.
The land registries are part of the local courts. They are responsible
for the land registration of the properties of land in their district.
These districts are manifested by law. Land registry officials
- the district court judge as a land register judge
- the administrators of justice,
- the nominated official of the land registration office
- the official for certifications of the land registration
The administrator of justice is responsible for all external
business of the land register. He is able to decide independent,
his decisions are regulated and restricted only by law. The official
for certifications has to register the contents of the administrator
of justice in the register and countersign the records in the
With respect to the federal constitution of Germany the responsibility
for legislation in the field of cadastre is in the hand of the
states. The states have passed various, basically uniform, laws
in the field of surveying. The ministry responsible for surveying
varies from state to state, normally it is placed in the ministry
of the interior, but in some states as well in the ministry of
finance, trade and commerce, or building and construction. In
the majority of German states the surveying and cadastral services
have a three-tier structure:
- supreme surveying and cadastral authority (state government
ministry), dealing with principles, preparing legislation and
issues administrative rules and guidelines for a uniform implementation
of the tasks as the top supervisory body;
- higher surveying and cadastral authority, duties at
this level are carried out by the governors' departments (administrative
subdivisions of the state governments) covering the territory
of several shires and unincorporated cities. They supervise
the local cadastral and surveying agencies as well as the licensed
surveyors, issue general and specific directives and provide
assistance wherever the local services need it;
- lower surveying and cadastral agencies, their jurisdiction
covers the territory of a shire or an unincorporated city. They
are tasked to maintain and update the real property cadastre.
The organisation of a cadastral agency varies when these offices
have taken over more communal tasks like land valuation, planning
etc. An organisational chart is enclosed.
Private Sector Involvement:
In all states except Bavaria licensed surveyors are mandated to
do the cadastral surveys. Notaries are involved in the legal part
of the business authenticating all kinds of contracts associated
with buying and selling of land, mortgages etc.
Professional Organization or
The "Deutscher Verein für Vermessungswesen" (DVW) - Gesellschaft
für Geodäsie, Geoinformation und Landmanagement is the German
Association of Surveying and member of FIG.
The objectives of DVW are laid down in the association's bylaws
- To promote the disciplines of geodesy, geoinformation and
land management in science, research and practical experience.
- To contribute to the education, further training and professional
development of its members, and in this context, to promote
national and international co-operation.
- To co-operate with technical and scientific associations as
well as with universities and other institutions.
- To contribute to legislative proceedings at federal level
as far as the concerns of geodesy, geoinformation and land management
- To present the achievements and the importance of geodesy,
geoinformation and land management to the public.
Each state has its own licensing law for private licensed surveyors.
The prerequisites for getting a license for one specific state
is a university diploma for surveying and an education for becoming
a civil servant with a final examination.
At university level 9 universities offer education in geodesy,
geoinformation, land management and surveying in a full program.
The average duration of the programs are 5 years and about 260
graduates finish their studies annually. The degree is called
Diplom-Ingenieur and is comparable to MSc.
At the BSc level 17 universities offer a 4 years program with
approximately 580 graduates who finish their studies annually.
At technician level Germany has a system of apprenticeship trainings.
The apprentices are employees at surveying companies, licensed
surveyors or the public sector. There they have a training on
the job. In additional courses in schools they are provided with
the theoretical know how for their job. This apprenticeship has
a duration from about 3 years and ends with an examination.
Purpose of Cadastral System:
The land register shows the legal status of all real property.
In its documentation and publication role it works as the statutory
basis for property conveyancing, in particular to ensure unequivocal
status of ownership and other titles, as well as for mortgage
The cadastre in Germany is defined as the official register of
all parcels and buildings in a state, in which all parcels are
described with graphical and textual data. The real property cadastre
is designed to show the de facto status of property. As
far as legal property titles are concerned, the cadastre shows
their scope and the part of the surface to which they extend.
All relevant facts, such as designation, location, size and use,
plus the boundaries as surveyed by authorised government agencies
and licensed surveyors are described.
The cadastre is the only register in which all parcels
and buildings in a state are described. In addition it contains
additional information, like the results of the official soil
assessment. With some parts of its contents the cadastre enjoys
the "public faith" of the land register, like parcel-identifier
in maps and records.
Cadastre became the basic element of all kinds of Geographical
information systems and is part of SDI-projects on local, state
and national level.
Types of Cadastral Systems:
In Germany there exists only one type of cadastre covering the complete
territory with all kinds of landowners (private and state) and all
kinds of land use (urban, rural, forests etc.). There are no cadastral
problems with informal or illegal settlements.
The land register is characterised by two important legal
- Changes of rights to land do not take effect before being
registered in the land register.
- Until otherwise proven, the correctness of all titles recorded
on the register is assumed. The land register enjoys the "public
faith", in other words, the details registered may be presumed
correct by anyone acquiring a legal title with regard to property
unless an appeal against the correctness is recorded or the
person acquiring the title is aware of the entry being incorrect.
Registrations therefore play an important legal role. They are
in force until the evidence of the reverse. So do some contents
of the cadastre, like the parcel-identifier in maps and records.
The contents of the land register are based on private contracts
certified by public notaries. It is not a deed system, but the
contracts are stored in the files belonging to each record.
Registrations are done only by application. So normally the land
registry does not become active by itself.
The cadastre in Germany is a parcel-based system, i.e.
information is geographically referenced to unique, well-defined
units of land. These units are defined by formal boundaries marking
the extent of land. Each parcel is given a unique parcel-number.
The cadastre, based on cadastral surveying, shows the division
of the ground in form of parcels and contains information about
the de facto status of property (location, size, use etc.). The
land register contains the describing parts of the cadastre. Therefore
only both systems in combination are able to give a complete overview
about legal and de facto land tenure. Both registers must be constantly
updated and kept in correspondence with each other.
Content of Cadastral System:
Rights on land being able to register in the land register are:
- share-ownership of a property,
- ownership of a building without ownership of the land (long
- full ownership of an apartment in combination with part-ownership
to the land,
- easements as a limited right for an owner of one parcel to
use or prevent use of some kind of a neighbouring parcel. The
right is connected to a parcel, like rights-of-ways,
- easement as a limited right for a person or the community,
like the right for the municipality to build a gas pipe on private
- mortgages in different forms to secure loans,
- the privilege right for a person to buy a property,
- the privilege right to re-buy a property.
There are two ways of register land tenure,
- the real folio, in which each parcel is registered in a special
- the personal folio, in which all parcels of an owner are
registered in one folio.
The personal folio is the common form in these days.
Generally each parcel has to be registered in the land register,
except parcels in state ownership, which are not part of a normal
land market, e.g. streets.
A folio has a structure described as follows:
- responsible district court,
- number of folio.
2. List of properties
- numbers of properties,
- numbers of parcels (a property may be separated in a number
- description of parcels (area, land use, location),
- rights of the owner to other parcels (leaseholds),
3. Part I
- name of the land owners,
- number of properties.
4. Part II
- all forms of easement, protests and other restrictions,
- ranking of rights.
5. Part III
Beside this official register there are files containing contracts
and other documents related to the folio.
As mentioned earlier the cadastre shows the de facto status of
land properties in both graphic and textual records.
The formerly parcel register in most parts of Germany is operated
in a digital system called Automated Property Register (ALB).
The cadastral maps are digitised in most parts of Germany. This
system is called Automated Property Map (ALK). Both systems
are more or less unique in all states, so that a nation-wide user
can have access to the same structure of data across the whole
nation. Both information systems, ALB and ALK define the basic
Land Information System. A new project called ALKIS® will replace
ALK and ALB and store all information in one object-oriented data
base system. In most states the data are already available in
digital form. In the East German states the data will be 100 %
in digital form by the end of 2005.
Stored details for each parcel in ALB are:
- name, date of birth, address, shares of the land owner,
- location of the parcel, like street-name, house number, centre-coordinates,
- district and parcel-number,
- area of the parcel,
- type of land use,
- results from official soil assessment,
- internal information about year of creation of the parcel,
year of maintenance, number of cadastral map, number of survey
- number of folio and property in the land register,
- additional details about the parcel, like parcel is part
of a consolidation project, polluted soil, historical monuments,
parcel is part of a nature reserve or a water reserve etc.
The analogue cadastral maps exist generally in form of grid-maps
scale 1:1,000 based on Gauß-Krüger-coordinates. Most of these
analogue maps are now replaced by digital maps (ALK) containing
geographical information about:
- parcel boundaries and corner point markings,
- numbering of parcels,
- boundaries of districts,
- survey control points,
- outlines of houses and buildings,
- house numbers,
- street names,
- results from official soil assessment,
- type of land use,
- topographical details like kerbs, cycle tracks, trees, embankments,
Because ALK is held in digital form extracts can be put together
individually following the requests of the user in analogue listings,
plots or digital in well defined formats (e.g. DXF, EDBS).
The new ALKIS® concept follows the ISO and OGC standards with
their topological features.
The cadastral maps must be suitable as a basis for development
plans and for the revision of the official map series. According
to the legal tasks of the cadastral maps the contents are based
on terrestrial surveys (boundaries, houses and buildings). Topographical
details sometimes may be put into the maps by photogrammetry.
In areas with a high accurate cadastre it is possible to create
new legal boundaries from existing plans by calculating without
surveying in the field.
Example of a Cadastral Map:
Figure 1: German cadastral map (--> Digitale Stadtgrundkarte,
higher resolution, 292k)
Role of Cadastral Layer in SDI:
Cadastre in Germany fulfills the requirements of most customers
as a basic data set for a great variety of purposes. It is used
as a basic land information system. In most laws concerning cadastre
it is regulated that all providers of spatial data in the public
sector have to use cadastral data as a basic element to ensure
that all data have the same geometrical structure and are based
on coordinates or in case of textual data sets on identifiers
like parcel number or house number. So cadastral data play an
increasing role in the market and are an important tool for planning
and a lot of political decisions.
The components of the cadastral data bases for maps (ALK) and
records (ALB) date back to the 70s and 80s of the last century.
They were developed by the surveying and mapping authorities under
the technical environment and possibilities in that time. Links
from ALK to the topographical information system ATKIS® are very
difficult because of different object catalogues. The developments
do not follow national or international standards.
Further development of these software systems seems not to offer
future oriented solutions.
The 'Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Vermessungsverwaltungen der Länder
der Bundesrepublik Deutschland' (AdV) (Working Committee of the
Surveying Authorities of the States of the Federal Republic of
Germany) decided to design a new and future oriented system ALKISâ
in combination with a re-design of the Official Topographic and
Cartographic Information System ATKIS®.
ALKIS® in combination with ATKIS® is designed to:
- process all necessary cadastral and topographical data for
a parcel based map and register of land owners, land use and
more unified basic data for the entire Republic,
- control the use and maintenance of the system, and to
- enable the use of the entire geographical data of the surveying
authorities for all users via a meta data system including quality
information for all data and a standardised data interface for
ALKIS® and ATKIS®. Of course links of the users' specific data
they already linked to ALK, ALB or ATKIS® still have to be possible
in the new systems without reasonable new investments on their
side. They shall trust in the sustainability of their investment
Modelling of ALKIS® and ATKIS® are based on the ISO standard
Unified Modelling Language (UML) and for the definition of the
data interface Extensible Markup Language (XML).
Most states are working on solutions to provide data via Internet
as a part of e-government projects.