[Tagging] natural=????

Tod Fitch Tod at FitchDesign.com
Tue Sep 10 23:02:06 UTC 2013

On Tue, September 10, 2013 2:37 pm, Christoph Hormann wrote:
> [...]
> The real problem about natural=tundra is that it is a very broad
> classification.  Essentially it starts at the treeline with often quite
> lush grass or woody vegetation and ends with scattered lichens.  In a
> way natural=tundra would be orthogonal to the existing natural=wood|
> scrub|grassland|heath since it does not specify what grows there but
> instead says why it grows there (because it's beyond the alpine/arctic
> treeline).  In this way it would be similar to natural=wetland (or the
> infamous natural=desert).
> Greetings,
> --
> Christoph Hormann
> http://www.imagico.de/

I became side tracked reading your web site. Interesting stuff. But back
to the topic at hand.

I am not convinced that tundra is orthogonal to wood/shrub/grassland/heath
as those are also very broad classifications. Is that wood dense or openly
spaced trees? Are they deciduous or evergreen? Are those shrubs small or
tall? What is your judgement of small or large? Is that hillside of live
oak plants better described as shrubs (heath) or a trees (wood)?

Your comment regarding desert got me thinking about the Sonoran Desert.
Vegetation in that area is highly dependent on elevation and elevation
changes can occur over many 10s or even 100s of KM. So there may a gradual
transition between lower areas with some hardly visible grasses but
predominantly creosote bushes and dirt (how to classify that, I doubt
anyone would call it heath?) into areas with various cacti (cholla,
saguaro, etc.) and small trees (mesquite and palo verde) (again no tagging
I see in OSM matches) and from there to higher areas probably best
described as savanna (no OSM tag in the wiki for that either), with grass
lands mixed with small trees and perhaps tree yucca. And so on. Travelling
through the area one is often well into the next zone before noticing,
just the sudden realization that sometime in the last half hour of driving
everything changed.

There are definitely issues with defining appropriate tags for each
ecosystem and then issues of judgement on where to draw the line between
the different areas. I don't see that "alpine tundra", which seems to be a
well used term outside of OSM, is much different than wood or heath in
that regard.


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