Land records, comprising details of ownership, demarcation, and the value of real property, are critical for effective land administration. In Odisha, the distinction between forest land records and revenue land records is particularly significant, given the state's extensive forest cover and mineral wealth. These records are foundational for land administration, lease management, land use planning, taxation,land registration & overall sustainable development. However, inaccurate and outdated land records can lead to administrative inefficiencies, encroachments, and disputes between forest and revenue departments.

Background and Need

Accurate land records are necessary for effective governance. Odisha's forest lands, covering approximately 61,204 square kilometers-39% of the state's geographic area-are vital for environmental conservation and socio-economic development. However, the lack of precise boundary maps has historically led to conflicts and encroachments. The Hon'ble Supreme Court of India's directive in the Lafarge case (2011) underscored the need for geo-referencing all forestlands to enhance conservation efforts.Odisha responded promptly, developing, and notifying a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for geo-referencing forestlands in 2017.

As Technical Partner to Odisha Forest Department, SPARC assisted in establishing survey controls and conducting DGPS surveys of about 4000 notified forest blocks across 44 forest divisions. These efforts aimed to reconcile forest boundaries with revenue land records, ensuring accurate and digitized forest land records.


Historically, forest surveys relied on approximate methods, resulting in boundary maps that could not be precisely correlated on the ground. Discrepancies among traverse maps, toposheets, working plans, and cadastral maps compounded the confusion. Boundary descriptions were often vague, leading to disagreements between the Forest and Revenue Departments. Such inconsistencies hindered effective land management and conservation efforts.

Methods and Technologies

To address these challenges, forest boundaries were synchronized with peripheral revenue settlements maps referring to working plan maps, traverse maps, satellite data in GIS and were jointly certified by Forest and Revenue officials. Such reconciled boundaries were taken up for further DGPS survey adhering to the SOP.

GIS technology integrated various decision-support information, including working plan maps, satellite images, cadastral maps, and forest block maps, enabling precise visualization of forest land boundaries.

The DGPS survey provided accurate boundary coordinates for Reserve Forests and Protected Reserve Forests, facilitating the reconciliation of forest and revenue land records. Despite challenges posed by difficult terrain, missing demarcations, and inaccurate boundary descriptions, this methodology ensured the creation of precise, geo-referenced, and digitized forest boundary maps.


With joint involvement of Forest and Revenue Departments, the integration of contemporary technologies like DGPS and GIS in forest land record management not only ensures correct demarcation of notified forest blocks but also supports the identification and mapping of Village forests, DLC forests, and Deemed forests. This unified approach resolves long-standing disputes, promotes sustainable development, and conserves natural resources, preparing the way for a balanced coexistence of development and environmental conservation in Odisha.