In fact, city councillors considering the future needs of rural France are bringing these together in documents or certificat urbanismes, revisions of the former site inventories, writes Carol Miers.
While taking a walk through seldom used footpaths you may well be walking across land that has been recorded on inter-crossing maps, for example categorised for ecological significance, or suitable for construction, or as containing heritage sites, or arterial roads.
Nationally, there is a change in policy towards using resources efficiently by grouping houses together and limiting the size of new builds. The new regulations are cemented into a village document.
At Loubejac, in the Dordogne, one such village analysis is now in its primary draft. I attended a meeting for the 273 inhabitants where a presentation by the société URBANAE, introduced the first stage.
It will be followed by a period of consultation where an expert sits in the Mairie to listen to project ideas, suggestions, criticisms and all questions from the villagers to better shape a local constitution. This is how the initial draft will be pushed and stretched into shape.
In order to satisfy future needs and demands for utilities the land categories aim to maximise all interests, from building plots to agricultural needs, leisure to being of tourist interest.
Labels for valleys of significant beauty, primary natural water sources, road passageways, necessary wildlife pathways all bring to mind the assessments for the UK's sites of special scientific interest.
Preliminary research had included a virtual census of the population, their employment locations and types, ages and status.
It stated the ratio of forest to open land as 53%. The future for each hectare was decided by allocation of a letter, such as N for house building. From discussions with the pompier every new build has to have fire barriers.
Pointing at bar charts the speaker hazarded projections for the growth in population based on the previous ten year pattern.
From this a hypothetical house building plan and the required hectarage was calculated and the total represented as a proportion of available land.
It is reassuring that no decisions are to be taken by a figure in a remote office. After all, as I overheard it said, this is a republic, the French fraternity.