[Tagging] Feature Proposal - RFC - (Ground)

Joseph Eisenberg joseph.eisenberg at gmail.com
Mon Jul 13 20:34:32 UTC 2020

The Atacama desert has many areas of bare sand and rock, but also some
places with mixed stoney soil:



On Mon, Jul 13, 2020 at 12:31 AM Michael Montani <michael.montani at un.org>

> Doing some wrap up:
> *> Barren sounds to me to imply nothing can grow there.Bare sounds more *
> *neutral and factual to me, it just says there is nothing but bare soil to
> *
> *mark the area with.Please correct if I am wrong!*
> For the 'barren vs bare' discussion, I would go for natural=bare_soil, not
> only for the meaning but also for a matter of consistency with the already
> existing natural=bare_rock.
> *>Even those photos show that there is some vegetation there, even though *
> *it's sparse.*
> *At what level of plant growth, does it stop being "bare ground"? One *
> *"plant" (tree / shrub / patch of grass etc) per sq km / 100 / 10 / 1 sq
> m?*
> *Maybe, instead of saying it's bare ground, we need some way of describing
> *
> *the level of ground cover eg vegetation=sparse or similar?*
> To me, I'm ok in considering bare_soil with some vegetation. But obviously
> not too much, otherwise I would switch to natural=scrub. Also, a
> natural=bare_soil + vegetation=sparse to me would be natural=scrub or
> natural=grassland. A (little) tree/shrub/patch every (approximately) 10 sq
> m or more seems good to me to state it's bare_soil. The photos I posted,
> have some scrub polygon surrounding the groundy area for sure.
> Also, I would go for bare_soil targeting silt or clay soil, loam and
> mixture humus and mineral soil. To me, all these areas don't have a current
> OSM tag correctly defining all of them, apart when inserted in an
> environmental or geological context as wetlands.
> Indeed, I wouldn't use bare_soil when a wetland can reasonably describe in
> a correct way the area, as well as a thin layer of grass (e.g. lichens in
> tundra) is covering the ground (in that case natural=grassland).
> Furthermore to me is not meaningful to specify whether a soil is mostly
> humus as, if the organic matter percentage is high, most probably
> vegetation will grow there in a while. As you may have imagined, this tag
> proposal was born mostly to map arid areas rather than general soil, but
> soil seems to be a huge gap in OSM landcover tagging.
> Unfortunately is very hard to retrieve on-the-ground photos in Africa, but
> I think these areas are very common in places outside the European context.
> Feel free to add photos (if you have any) at
> https://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Talk:Proposed_features/Ground#Examples
> Thanks,
> --
> *Michael Montani*
> GIS Consultant, *Client Solutions Delivery Section*
> *Service for Geospatial Information and Telecommunications Technologies*
> United Nations Global Service Centre
> United Nations Department of Operational Support
> Brindisi | Phone: +39 0831 056985 | Mobile: +39 3297193455 | Intermission:
> 158 6985
> E-mail: michael.montani at un.org <mail at un.org> | www.ungsc.org
> ------------------------------
> *Da:* Joseph Eisenberg <joseph.eisenberg at gmail.com>
> *Inviato:* domenica 12 luglio 2020 21:15
> *A:* Tag discussion, strategy and related tools <tagging at openstreetmap.org
> >
> *Oggetto:* Re: [Tagging] Feature Proposal - RFC - (Ground)
> The link [2] to https://www.hq.nasa.gov/iwgsdi/Barren_Land.html has these
> categories:
> * Bare Exposed Rock*: Those ecosystems characterized by areas of
> bedrock exposure, desert pavement, scarps, talus, slides, volcanic
> material, rock glaciers, and other accumulations of rock without vegetative
> cover.
> This is mostly covered by natural=bare_rock or natural=scree (or
> natural=shingle) currently.
> * Beaches*: Those ecosystems along shorelines characterized by
> smooth sloping accumulations of sand and gravel. The surface is stable
> inland, but the shoreward part is subject to erosion by wind and water and
> to deposition in protected areas.
> This is natural=beach, or natural=wetland + wetland=tidalflat, or
> natural=shingle, possibly overlapping with water (if below the high tide
> line or high water line).
> * Dry Salt Flats*: Those ecosystems occurring on the
> flat-floored bottoms of interior desert basins that do not qualify as
> wetlands.
> We don't have a good tag for this, as Christoph mentioned previously,
> probably because these features are rare in Europe.
> * Mixed Barren Land*: Those regions in which a mixture of barren
> land features occurs and the dominant land use occupies less than
> two-thirds of the area. This includes, for example, a desert region where
> combinations of salt flats, sandy areas, bare rock, surface extraction, and
> transitional activities could occur in close proximity.
> We should map these areas based on the most specific area: natural=sand,
> natural=bare_rock, landuse=quarry, etc.
> * Sandy Areas Other Than Beaches*: Those ecosystems composed
> primarily of dunes -- accumulations of sand transported by wind. ...
> This is usually mapped as natural=sand
> * Strip Mines, Quaries, and Gravel Pits*: Those regions where
> vegetative cover and overburden are removed to expose such deposits as
> coal, iron ore, limestone, and copper. This includes inactive, unreclaimed,
> and active strip mines, quarries, borrow pits, and gravel pits until other
> cover or use has been established.
> Mapped as landuse=quarry
> * Transitional Areas*: Those regions that are in transition from
> one land use activity to another. This transitional phase occurs when, for
> example, forest lands are cleared for agriculture, wetlands are drained for
> development, or when any type of land use ceases as areas become
> temporarily bare as con- struction is planned for such future uses as
> residences, shopping centers, industrial sites, or subur- ban and rural
> residential subdivisions. This also includes land being altered by filling,
> such as occurs in spoil dumps or sanitary landfills. (Definition Source: A
> Land Use and Land Cover Classification System for Use with Remote Sensing
> Data)
> This might be landuse=landfill, landuse=construction, or
> landuse=brownfield in many cases. Areas where trees have been recently
> cleared are somewhat debatable, if it's not certain what the area is
> transitioning into, but there is landuse=meadow + meadow=transitional for
> areas of grass that are transitioning into scrub or early woodland again.
> So we certainly need a new tag for salt flats, and I agree that there are
> some places like badlands and deserts with clay soils where we don't have
> well established tags for unvegetated areas, but many types of "barren"
> land can already be mapped with existing tags. That's why it's important
> that new tags are precisely defined.
> – Joseph Eisenberg
> On Sun, Jul 12, 2020 at 10:37 AM mbranco2 <mbranco2 at gmail.com> wrote:
> I hope that this discussion and the related proposal wiki page will lead
> to a solution, because I found several times, mapping in Africa with HOT
> projects, "desertic lands" and I didn't find a tag for this.
> If we search the Internet for "barren soil", we can find a lot of
> ground-level related images.
> And I think that we could map such characteristic even with only imagery
> (without direct survey), because it's a "macro" feature, as is a wood or a
> scrub.
> Maybe images was shot in a particular season, and the soil condition is
> not always the same?
> Well, if I check several imageries and in all of them I see a "desertic
> land", I'm confident I can map that area with the tag we're talking about.
> And I think it doesn't matter if for few days a year (or few days in
> several years...) it will rain and there will be - for few days - a bit of
> vegetation: it's not an OSM mapping rule, to map the "main" characteristic
> of an item?
> Surely it could be useful if botanists and/or geologists could better
> specify (with more specific tags) the cause: no rain? pollution? specific
> ground-conditions such as presence of salt or sulfur?
> For the main tag, I think that "natural" is the right key (being already
> natural=sand/bare_rock/shingle/scree...).
> About the value, I'd prefer a botanic or geologist suggest us the best
> word.
> Some references:
> - "Barren vegetation" [1]  (..."Regions on the earth’s surface where soils
> are dominating the ecosystems with little to no plant cover are often
> referred to as “Barren”. )
> - "Barren land" [2] (an old web page from NASA: "...ecosystems in which
> less than one third of the area has vegetation or other cover. In general,
> Barren Land has thin soil, sand, or rocks."). This web page cites "A Land
> Use and Land Cover Classification System for Use with Remote Sensor Data",
> a free paper you can find in Google Books too.
> - "Barren soil is starving Africans" [3]
> Other examples of "desertic" lands:
> - Bonneville (USA) [4] (maybe some of you saw World's Fastest Indian, the
> lovely movie with Anthony Hopkins :-) )
> - La Leona (Patagonia) [5]
> Ciao!
> Marco (mbranco2 / UNGSC-mbranco2)
> [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barren_vegetation
> [2] https://www.hq.nasa.gov/iwgsdi/Barren_Land.html
> [3] https://www.nature.com/news/2006/060327/full/060327-15.html
> [4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonneville_Salt_Flats
> [5] https://visitpatagonia.com.ar/en/activities/petrified-forest-la-leona/
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