Sunday, June 06, 2021

Who Owns the World?

Gina Rinehart, a mining magnate, effectively 'owns' 1.2% of Australia. The Australian Agricultural Company is the biggest corporate landholder in Australia. The Australian government says that 17% of Australia is owned by indigenous communities. Although, when you take in other types of land ownership, the percentage of land owned by indigenous communities is probably much larger.

The main problem in deciding who owns Australia is that in Australia there is no consistent protocol for recording who owns land. There is isn't even a clearly established definition of what constitutes ownership or control of land.

The Guardian has therefore decided to try to uncover the truth of who really owns Australia. In Who Owns Australia? the newspaper has mapped out different types of land ownership. The newspaper reports that 44% of Australia has a pastoral lease. Pastoral leases are crown lands which are leased for the limited purpose of "grazing of stock and associated activities". The Guardian's map shows where land is privately owned, is under one of these pastoral leases, is publicly owned or belongs to indigenous communities. 

The newspaper has also mapped out the largest parcels of pastoral land and who these leases are owned by.

John Malone owns 2.2 million acres of the United States - an area of land which is bigger than the state of Delaware (1.5 million acres). Malone is the largest private landowner in the US. The Emmerson family are the second largest private landowners and Ted Turner is third. Both the Emmerson family and Ted Turner also own more land than the size of the state of Delaware.

You can discover how much land is owned by private landowners in Bloomberg's article The Largest Landowners in the US. The article includes a map which shows which land in America is owned privately and who owns it. The map shows that between them the 100 largest owners of private property own 2% of the USA, an area about the size of Florida. The 100 largest landowners are also buying up more land all the time. In fact ten years ago the top 100 landowners owned fewer than 30 million acres. They now own 40 million acres.

If you select a state on Bloomberg's map you can view an annotated overview of the land owned by the state's biggest private landowners. The map also provides a visualization of land owned by America's top 10 landowners. 

Who Owns England? has set itself the task of mapping who owns land in England. The Who Owns England? website includes an interactive map which plots the land that it has so far discovered the ownership of. On this interactive map land parcels are colored by type of land owner. 

Back in 2018 the BBC reported that 97,000 properties in England and Wales are owned by overseas companies. In Firms on Caribbean island chain own 23,000 UK properties the BBC mapped all the properties in England & Wales which are owned by these overseas companies.

The map reveals that in central London a huge percentage of properties are now owned by overseas firms. For example in Kensington and Chelsea more than 6,000 properties are owned by overseas companies. If you want to know who owns a property you can click on the map marker to reveal the name of the company and the country of the owner.

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