The Opportunity: A clear gap in standards for the land sector
Improving access to land-related data and information is the Land Portal’s mission, and investing in metadata is a critical part of our work. When the Land Portal Foundation first discovered AGROVOC in 2012, only 20 concepts related to land governance were included in the AGROVOC vocabulary. This spoke to a larger issue in the land-sector community, as a study we conducted in 2016 found that very few land organizations used standard vocabularies.
A Tailored Solution: Collaboration with FAO leads to LandVoc
We realized that to make AGROVOC relevant for the land governance sector -- the sector where the Land Portal operates and serves -- those 20 original terms were not enough. The Land Portal started in 2013 to add new terms and definitions to AGROVOC from existing land glossaries, such as FAO’s Multilingual Land Tenure Thesaurus and the GLTN GLII glossary. Our commitment to AGROVOC deepened as we started convening external partners to validate new additions to LandVoc.
In 2016, LandVoc reached a critical mass within AGROVOC, and the Land Portal asked FAO for the ability to "isolate" it from the expansive AGROVOC list. This request was directly aligned to our mission of making data more accessible to users. Now users could, for example, download LandVoc as a separate scheme. LandVoc hit another milestone in 2020 when the Land Portal approached FAO about the possibility of creating an independent set of relations for LandVoc, creating an independent hierarchy within AGROVOC for the first time.
Impact: LandVoc Paves the Way for Additional AGROVOC Sub-Schemes
At the beginning of the LandVoc journey, the Land Portal made an intentional decision to contribute to AGROVOC rather than create another standard for land vocabulary. Now LandVoc, like AGROVOC, is a powerful tool in making data and information more discoverable. Following our organic pilot, other AGROVOC sub-schemes have followed. Enriching AGROVOC with LandVoc has strengthened the information ecosystem both within and beyond the land governance sector.
This case study was developed in response to a call for AGROVOC case studies.