[Tagging] Mapping deforestation

Joseph Eisenberg joseph.eisenberg at gmail.com
Mon Mar 11 23:18:58 UTC 2019

> “We will would like to map land cover in an area near the Amazonian

I’d recommend that you start by mapping the existing forested areas with
natural=wood or landuse=forest, and areas of water with natural=water and
water=lake / =river, or natural=wetland for swamps, marshes, mangroves,
bogs, etc.

If you can clearly identify other types of vegetation (from aerial imagery,
I assume?) there are several specific tags that can be used. You should not
tag something non-specific like “clearing” or “bare ground”.

Natural=scrub is used for areas mainly covered shrubs or bushes, eg woody
plants about 1m to 3m in height, natura=heath is for dwarf shrubs (probably
only found in the high Andes on Colombia), natural=grassland can be used
for alpine areas above the treeline (though these may also be heath or
wetland=bog). Areas of rocky land without vegetation can be
natural=bare_rock, =sand, =scree, =shingle

The most relevant tags for landcover with heavy human use in Colombia might
be landuse=orchard for palm oil, banana, and coffee plantations,
landuse=farmland for seasonal or annual crops, landuse=meadow for pasture
and hay fields, landuse=residential / =industrial for developed areas with
houses / industry.

The idea should be to map as specifically as possible. If you are not
certain of the type of vegetation or landuse for a certain area, then leave
that place untagged for now. Someday a local person can add the proper
tagging by visiting that place in person.

Re: the landcover tags. These have not been approved by the community,
though there is a small, vocal minority that wants to use them instead of
the established tags that start with landuse= and natural=. I would not use
these, because there are much more widely used equivalents that are
approved or in use for many years.

Don’t use landcover=trees; use natural=wood or landuse=forest.
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