In the post-war period, since the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, successive UK governments have developed policies for the management of land use and marine conservation. This process accelerated at the Millennium with the passage of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act. Now, in 2006, the present Government has promoted the passage through Parliament of both the Commons Act and the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act, and a new Marine Bill is not far behind. If successful such measures will further expand and develop the means to secure and protect designated land and the marine environment. An important issue here is how the Government plans to embrace digital geospatial techniques in the development of policy towards the conservation and management of such geographic space. A more specific issue concerns the prospects for conversion from paper to digital form of maps of open country, commons, town and village greens and public rights of way that carry conclusive or definitive status in court. This paper, presented in two parts, looks at current developments and recent research on these topics and assesses the feasibility of such transition. In doing so it takes account of eGovernment and transformational policies and the mechanism to promote digitisation of records set out in the Electronic Communications Act 2000. It concludes that the adoption of geospatial techniques as a tool for developing policy towards designated land and the marine environment has much to commend it, as does development of a national geographic information strategy for government as a whole. Whilst the paper focuses on developments in UK law, the policy issues raised are applicable to all governments and jurisdictions
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