This paper reports on a study within the wider remit of the Wales Terrestrial Database Project (WALTER). This project investigated the feasibility of creating an integrated rural resources and land-use information system for rural Wales, and demonstrated its capabilities to address policy objectives of the main land-use agencies. By a comparison of land use derived from aerial photograph interpretations for 1957 and 1985 for a 380 km2 catchment in mid-Wales, major changes in broad land-use types were revealed and influences of various statutory designations on these changes were investigated. The work made use of a proprietary geographical information system. In this paper, conclusions are drawn about the effectiveness of statutory conservation measures.