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Thread: The Landowner database - the GLAD. Some thoughts.

  1. #1

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    Default The Landowner database - the GLAD. Some thoughts.

    I posted a question for the committee candidates about time commitments to the GAGB. The responses were interesting and do illustrate this game we play is run by volunteers who devote as much time as they can to it (and that includes me as a volunteer with Geocaching HQ).

    I wanted to share my thoughts about the GLAD and get other opinions too. First though I want to explain how we use these agreements when reviewing.

    When a cache is submitted for review we check the location on the MAGIC map (UK), the Inspire map (Wales) and Pastmap (Scotland). These show us the main areas where caches need permission - Woodland Trust, National Trust, nature reserves, SAM's etc. We also have a database, hosted by Geocaching HQ that we store other maps in. It is automatically checked and if the cache is in an area we need to be aware of it flags up a warning - either no caching allowed or that it needs specific permission. This database is for those individual landowners we need to know about who either allow or don't allow caching. These maps are essential to help us review. All the landowner agreements I've worked on have such maps. I've either got them directly from the landowner, downloaded them from their website or created my own by hand from information they've supplied. I then load these into our database. Others are much easier. They supply me with their digital maps and I simply convert and upload them. Not all the maps are public as some landowners don't want this but where they are available I've given the links to the GAGB for the GLAD.

    Without maps an agreement that says, "no caching in Ambridge Council woodland" is of little use to us without knowing where it is and which woodlands. With a map it's simple. Here is an example from the GLAD for Wolverhampton. Which parks, which green spaces etc does it cover? We have no idea.

    My process for creating a new agreement is as follows. I will usually hear about them either because of a landowner complaint that has come in from Geocaching HQ or the GAGB or from one of my colleagues who's dealing with a CO and their cache. I then contact the landowner, explain what geoaching is all about, how we review caches and that we need maps. They are usually extremely helpful. Once I've added the entry to the UK Geocaching Policies Wiki landowner database I'll email the GAGB the details. Though in the last few months when I realised the GLAD wasn't being updated I've not done this. The Wiki is what we actually use to review, referring to the GLAD if necessary for additional information.

    I don't know when new entries are added to the GLAD. What concerns me is how they've been negotiated. I think many are done by CO's when placing their own cache. That's fine but our needs are not addressed. There are no maps. If I happen to notice a new agreement is there I may investigate getting maps. I have worked with some CO's on maps but generally it's something that isn't considered. I would like to see a more 'formal' method of negotiating agreements where the person doing it is supported and helped by someone experienced in doing it. No, I'm not suggesting it should be me but I would like to be 'kept in the loop' regarding maps and would be happy to help and give advice.

    Updating agreements. Many agreements in the GLAD are old and have no dates of creation or expiry. The one I linked to above for Wolverhampton has the wording, "However, this decision has been in discussion recently and we are hopeful that permission will be granted soon." So in fact caching could be allowed now. Does anyone monitor these agreements to see if they are still current or have changed? I'm currently working with the Forestry Commission Peninsula district about their GLAD agreement as I discovered at least one of the 'no caching' woodlands is now on the 'allowed' list. That agreement dates to 2010 and it says, "subject to an annual review". I guess that means by the FC but someone should be following that up.

    It's a lot of work! I know, I look after our Wiki. It's one of the reasons I don't do any regular reviewing. I try and keep the Wiki updated which includes checking links still work (I've found broken links in the GLAD too), contacts are correct and so on.

  2. #2

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    Thanks for explaining Chris. I guess it doesn't help that many councils are shedding staff or combining teams, making the contact details unreliable and when they move, GAGB isn't going to be the first (or even last) person they'll inform, eh? So do you feel that GLAD needs to be regularly checked, or do you simply handle issues as they arise?

    Is there anything that local volunteers could do to help make GLAD more reliable and easier to manage - for example a templated way of communicating with a borough council that could result in an agreement (either way yes, no, or specific permission needed) that can be submitted to GLAD and checked? The 'many hands makes light work' vs 'too many cooks' question, there...

    Ant

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Graculus View Post
    My process for creating a new agreement is as follows. I will usually hear about them either because of a landowner complaint that has come in from Geocaching HQ or the GAGB or from one of my colleagues who's dealing with a CO and their cache. I then contact the landowner, explain what geoaching is all about, how we review caches and that we need maps. They are usually extremely helpful.
    It would be usefull if you could share with us the process including sample letters on how to contact landowners and explain what information you need.

    Quote Originally Posted by Graculus View Post
    I don't know when new entries are added to the GLAD. What concerns me is how they've been negotiated. I think many are done by CO's when placing their own cache. That's fine but our needs are not addressed. There are no maps. If I happen to notice a new agreement is there I may investigate getting maps. I have worked with some CO's on maps but generally it's something that isn't considered. I would like to see a more 'formal' method of negotiating agreements where the person doing it is supported and helped by someone experienced in doing it. No, I'm not suggesting it should be me but I would like to be 'kept in the loop' regarding maps and would be happy to help and give advice.
    Agreements are usually added if we are contacted by a council or an organisation, if it is a query on geocaching and how to place caches we ask them if they would like to set up an agreement. I also search the internet and find some councils who actively encourage geocaching and then again I contact them to see if they would like an agreement to be added to our database, Glasgow City Council being a example. Concerning new agreements I do ask for a map to help to show which areas they allow geocaching and I also notify you of any new agreements I have added to GLAD.

    Quote Originally Posted by Graculus View Post
    Updating agreements. Many agreements in the GLAD are old and have no dates of creation or expiry. The one I linked to above for Wolverhampton has the wording, "However, this decision has been in discussion recently and we are hopeful that permission will be granted soon." So in fact caching could be allowed now. Does anyone monitor these agreements to see if they are still current or have changed? I'm currently working with the Forestry Commission Peninsula district about their GLAD agreement as I discovered at least one of the 'no caching' woodlands is now on the 'allowed' list. That agreement dates to 2010 and it says, "subject to an annual review". I guess that means by the FC but someone should be following that up..
    Last year I emailed all of our agreements and I received a reply from half of them. I added a note within our database not viewable to the public the last contact date along with a copy of the email. The agreements that I received no reply from have not been changed and are probably out of date, this will take a lot of investigation to get hold of the right person and to keep chasing them, time I haven't had this year. I was adding all of your agreements on your UK Geocaching Policies Wiki to our GLAD but with the forum totally failing at the beginning of May your emails on map changes at the end of April didn't get done. Honestly I had forgotten about them, so the map links were not updated. We have had very few changes this year because I haven't actively searched for new agreements. Glasgow City Council is the only council to contact me and they are currently modifying their rules and will get in touch soon. The GLAD this year especially the last half of the committee year had been on hold because fixing the forum, sorting out email issues and building the shop has taken up so much of my time. The Forestry Commission has changed it's areas in the last couple of years so some agreements refer to the old areas they covered such as FC Peninsula, I did not receive a reply from our contact at FC Peninsula, so it maybe out of date.

    Quote Originally Posted by Graculus View Post
    It's a lot of work! I know, I look after our Wiki. It's one of the reasons I don't do any regular reviewing. I try and keep the Wiki updated which includes checking links still work (I've found broken links in the GLAD too), contacts are correct and so on.
    Yes it's a lot of work to check that all the agreements are up to date and accurate as well as finding new agreements. Regular communication between the GAGB and yourself will help the UK establish an accurate and up to date list of agreements. Also sharing your experience in contacting landowners and what important information is needed for an agreement to be of value to the UK Geocaching Policies Wiki as well as our agreements being useful to geocachers.

    Chris there will be a new GLAD manager in December I will contact you when the new committee are in place.

  4. #4

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    Thank you for explaining the process and what is involved from the point of view of Geocaching HQ Reviewers and how it helps Chris.

    Thoughts: Atticle for Grocaching Magazines & Podcasts.
    As you mention, Cache Owners are not generally aware of what is involved and the need for maps etc.
    I think your explanation in the opening post is fantastic and would prove to be a very informative and helpful article for the GAGB Seeker, UK Cachemag.
    Perhaps also worth considering going on one of the UK geocaching podcasts to reach out to as many cachers as possible, either by sending them information or discussing it on the podcast.

    It is brilliant that you also offer your time to help advise others amd will help in being able to get the information needed to help you reviewing caches.

    This really highlights how much work and time, voluntarily too, that you and others involved put in creating a Land Owner Database.
    I think it will also highlight to geocachers and landowners the value in gaining / providing the correct and up to date information.
    Once the GAGB Database has been brought up to date, it will be a more useful and reliable source available on their website.

    I recall reading in the forums the problems you had Chris getting maps or information re caches on MoD property, another example of how much time and dedication you give, and how frustrating it can be too.

    Could someone clarify please?
    If there is an agreement in place eg on GAGB / Wiki, do cachers still have to contact anyone to get permission, or will cache owners include, where they saw the land owner agreement, in the reviewer notes when submitting a cache?

    When I have had permission previously, for organising GAGB CITO or other events, I have asked the land owners to write a brief email for me to pass on to the reviewers, including the details of what we are doing and when, where etc and then posted it as a reviewer note before submitting for review.

    Grateful thanks to all those involved in this process, it clearly is an important role and takes a lot of time to create and maintain land owner agreements.
    "Defeat may test you; It need not stop you. If at first you don't succeed, try another way. For every obstacle, there is a solution. Nothing in the world can take the place of persistance. The greatest mistake is giving up."
    Author Unknown :socool:

  5. #5

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    It does seem extremely tricky sometimes. Several months ago I wanted to place a cache that according to maps the one small area of a path I wanted to place it on was Historic Scotland property - unlike the rest which was council property. However, Historic Scotland had no idea they owned it. Took forever to sort out!

    I have used the database before, And a sample letter from here as well as far as I remember which was very helpful. However, when I looked again yesterday there seems to be limited agreements in Scotland, other than in Aberdeenshire. Would be amazing to have a really clear cut database to stop all the repetition, and I am sure councils etc would appreciate 1 point of contact rather than messages every other day about permission.
    We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open. Jawaharlal Nehru


  6. #6

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    On your last point about repetition.
    I have not looked to see if the database is accessible to public, and not able to at mo, as have 2 poorly children and not well and in pain myself.


    If Wiki database is accessible to all, as the Wiki is kept up to date by Chris, and has all the detailed information, would it make sense or be permissible for a link to be put on GAGB website to wiki?

    As mentioned by others, it would make sense to have 1 source and link to it.

    If so, as highlighted in this thread and the Q&A for candidates it started in, this would save a tremendous amount of time for GAGB which could be used for other tasks.
    "Defeat may test you; It need not stop you. If at first you don't succeed, try another way. For every obstacle, there is a solution. Nothing in the world can take the place of persistance. The greatest mistake is giving up."
    Author Unknown :socool:

  7. #7

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    Thank you for your very useful post.

    Having looked briefly at both websites I can fully understand the need for updating the GAGB website. The wiki would be more effective if our database was up to date!

  8. #8

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    Am I right thinking that there are suggestions here for the GAGB not to have their own GLAD database and just use the Wiki?

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cache on Wheels View Post
    On your last point about repetition.

    If Wiki database is accessible to all, as the Wiki is kept up to date by Chris, and has all the detailed information, would it make sense or be permissible for a link to be put on GAGB website to wiki?

    If so, as highlighted in this thread and the Q&A for candidates it started in, this would save a tremendous amount of time for GAGB which could be used for other tasks.
    As I see it, the Wiki is for Groundspeak users, and is updated by a Groundspeak Volunteer...

    There are other caching sites available to UK cachers.

    Is the GAGB not for ALL cachers, Groundspeak and other sites?
    I have a Geocaching problem...
    Work gets in the way!

    * Cache Walker -Caching by byway, not highway! CacheWalker.co.uk
    Walking and Caching in Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire areas

  10. #10

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    Back in the mists of time when I became a reviewer (2008) the GAGB website provided the GLAD, guidelines and other useful information in the form of downloads (such as log books, programs for loading caches onto Palm pilots etc etc). Geocaching.com had just the guidelines. What the GAGB didn't have was more general information about things like nature reserves, SSSI's, SAM's etc and how to find out where they were, map resources etc. We needed to be able to tell CO's why their cache wasn't being published and offer them help with the location. Rather than write it all out in a log it was much easier to link to a webpage that had the information. In 2009 the MAGIC map appeared which is a brilliant resource so I needed somewhere to tell people how to use it. That was why I created my Follow the Arrow website. Could the GAGB have done this sort of thing? Of course they could have. Why didn’t I suggest it to them? The sort of information we required for reviewing has to be kept up to date and inline with Groundspeak’s guidelines. I need to be able to make changes when necessary so creating my own site to do this made sense rather than having to rely on someone else. Then Geocaching HQ brought in the local geocaching Wikis so I simply transferred all reviewing related info from my resource site to that and continued to add more. The Wiki is the resource we refer cachers to when reviewing. It is linked to the Groundspeak guidelines.

    I continued to develop my resource site by adding more general cache related stuff. All about paperless caching, GPS's, online retailer list and so on. I felt it was something the caching community would benefit from. Could the GAGB have provided this sort of information on their website? That's not a question I can answer.

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bear and Ragged View Post
    As I see it, the Wiki is for Groundspeak users, and is updated by a Groundspeak Volunteer...

    There are other caching sites available to UK cachers.

    Is the GAGB not for ALL cachers, Groundspeak and other sites?
    You would have to ask the guys who run opencaching.org.uk, terrachaching and navicaching if they use the information on the GAGB website. Garmin's opencaching.com site has of course gone now.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Graculus View Post
    You would have to ask the guys who run opencaching.org.uk, terrachaching and navicaching if they use the information on the GAGB website. Garmin's opencaching.com site has of course gone now.
    I'm aware there are other listing sites available, that have guidelines / criteria that may differ from Groundspeak.
    However, is there anything in the GLAD database that is specific to only one or other listing sites than Groundspeak?

    The wiki and Follow the Arrow that Chris invests a huge amount of time in and keeps up to date is a valuable resource for ALL geocachers.

    That's why I enquired as a GAGB member if it was worth linking to the sites, obviously if Chris agreed, as it was explained by GAGB that it will take a lot of time to update and keep it updated which as I understand from GAGBs comment, was the problem with not adding the info Chris sent over the last year.
    So could GAGB use this time to invest in other areas?

    If information is not kept up to date, as far as I'me aware, people will stop referring to it, just as happens with any other websites.
    The other sites are kept up to date and have so much more information, as explained by Chris in his reply, that is an asset to ALL cachers, which is the aim at the end of the day.
    "Defeat may test you; It need not stop you. If at first you don't succeed, try another way. For every obstacle, there is a solution. Nothing in the world can take the place of persistance. The greatest mistake is giving up."
    Author Unknown :socool:

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    Which is fine as long as Chris continues to maintain but what happens if something happens to him or he becomes disengaged with the game?

    And as far as I am aware, the reviewer team are not actively seeking new agreements, which ought to be the GAGBs approach, it certainly was the intention at the beginning of the last committee year. Chris stated at the top that most of his actions are as a result of a complaint, that to me would suggest that most are for areas where caching would not be allowed?

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by richlay View Post
    Which is fine as long as Chris continues to maintain but what happens if something happens to him or he becomes disengaged with the game?

    And as far as I am aware, the reviewer team are not actively seeking new agreements, which ought to be the GAGBs approach, it certainly was the intention at the beginning of the last committee year. Chris stated at the top that most of his actions are as a result of a complaint, that to me would suggest that most are for areas where caching would not be allowed?
    Thank you for your reply Rich
    There is a lot to the GLAD and I've not been involved with that side of GAGB which is why I was enquiring.

    In addition to my previous comment, I did not mean for GAGB to stop seeking out new agreements, liaising with landowners, they have put a lot of work into this and had great results. I was referring to keeping the list up to date and working with Chris, just wondering if there was a way in which you could save time, especially on any info that would be duplicated.

    It is great to see Sharon's enthusiasm with discussing with Chris how the process could be improved.

    From Chris' post he does mention he gets a lot of info from land owners eg maps which is a valuable source of info for all cachers and the reviewers.

    Thanks again for all involved in helping our wonderful hobby more fun, easier to understand the GS rules, which can save a lot of time and energy when setting out caches and for making it easier to learn more features and techniques eg HTML code, GSAK, etc
    "Defeat may test you; It need not stop you. If at first you don't succeed, try another way. For every obstacle, there is a solution. Nothing in the world can take the place of persistance. The greatest mistake is giving up."
    Author Unknown :socool:

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by richlay View Post
    Which is fine as long as Chris continues to maintain but what happens if something happens to him or he becomes disengaged with the game?

    And as far as I am aware, the reviewer team are not actively seeking new agreements, which ought to be the GAGBs approach, it certainly was the intention at the beginning of the last committee year. Chris stated at the top that most of his actions are as a result of a complaint, that to me would suggest that most are for areas where caching would not be allowed?
    To answer a couple of questions above.

    What if I stopped doing what I do with the Wiki and my resource site? If this happened the Wiki would continue as it's run by Groundspeak. One of the UK team would take it over. The only reason I do it is because I don't review a regular region and therefore have time to devote to it. My colleagues all review their regions - that is their contribution to the game. My resource site? It's nothing to do with reviewing, it's just a useful resource for caching in general. If I closed it down then anyone else (even the GAGB) could replicate it. But in reality I would probably offer the whole site for 'adoption' so someone else could take it over.

    Do reviewers actively seek out new agreements? No. We don't go looking for them... they find us! I had a cacher contact me about the Northumberland Wildlife Trust. He has been working with them about an agreement. He asked me what I needed to have. I explained about maps, the Wiki etc. It has taken a little while but on Friday I got all the information and have now created an entry in the Wiki. The cacher has done all of the work regarding the agreement wording, getting maps and arranging how CO's contact the trust. All I've done is convert the maps and created the Wiki entry. When either Groundspeak or the GAGB pass on a landowner complaint to me I deal with the immediate problem and then contact the landowner (if I have the details) and explain how we can help prevent any more caches from being placed on their land. I also explain if they want to allow caching we can put a process in place where cachers get permission first. I have to say many of these landowners don't even reply! A recent example of this is Haylee Farm in Derbyshire. Landowner complaint, hand drawn map supplied from which I created the map available in the Wiki. Etwall Parish Council is another one created after a complaint. They supplied the maps. Both of these last two came about from complaints that came in from my colleagues. I also sorted out the National Trust Scotland and Wales and got maps of their holdings because they don't appear in MAGIC. NT Wales won't allow their maps to be made public but we are able to use them.

    All the agreements that we (reviewers) have been involved with or I have created are in the Wiki. I've not added the entire GLAD. I explained earlier that many of the GLAD entries are not really helpful to us. Without maps we simply can't identify a location. If the CO has no knowledge of the GAGB/GLAD then if the cache meets other guidelines it's published.

    I've been reading through the GAGB forum "Landowner Negotiations in progress". It's got quite a few entries going back several years that have never been completed or followed up. One of entries from September 2011 ends with, "Is there anything else I should be asking/ saying?". No response. I don't monitor this particular forum. Perhaps I should so I can offer help to people beginning the process of negotiating with landowners.

    This comment goes back to one I made earlier about consistency in sorting out agreements. I discovered there are now 7 separate agreements for the National Trust in England in the GLAD. There used to be just the one - with the NT HQ. That is still there which says to apply to the local NT office. It doesn't actually bother us when we get a cache on NT land because we simply refer them to the Wiki which says contact the local office. However I've now edited that to include:
    The Geocaching Association of Great Britain lists 7 different agreements for the NT in England. Before applying for permission please check which region your cache is in and whether specific guidelines need to be followed. Click here to open the GAGB database.

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