[Tagging] Deprecation of landuse=forest (was: Feature Proposal - RFC - boundary=forest(_compartment) relations)

Bert -Araali- Van Opstal bert.araali.afritastic at gmail.com
Mon Apr 12 17:04:00 UTC 2021

To what I've noticed in different tagging forums, forums and across 
different continents and languages, there is a general consensus to 
resolve the landuse=forest ambiguity.

The usage of landuse tags in general,  is the cause of similar issues as 
we move from general mapping to more detailed mapping. In countries 
where most of the land is in uniform "landuse" zones, large or general 
landuse mapping has not cuased too many issues, except for some grey 
areas or exceptions. In order to map larger managed or landuse 
accurately, we will never be able to do it with areas and/or 
multi-polygons.  As said before, we create inner holes or multiple 
patched outer areas, making it difficult to observe the larger managed area.
So it's not a matter of saying that using boundaries is an alternative 
to a landuse tag, it's to indicate or map a larger area reflecting it's 
management.  A forest, as a whole or in part, being managed or not, 
nicely explained in this proposal, can contain parts which are not 
managed or not, parts which are not wood covered, have different 
landuse.  Boundaries are the perfect solution for that.

It might co-exist with landuse=forest for some time, or as a specific 
well defined variant.  Instead of deprecating, it seems viable to allow 
parts of the forest to be left as being tagged with landuse=forest, 
others with natural=wood, others with other landuse and natural tags, 
but all being part of the same forestry "managed" area.

The difficulty lies in defining what is to be considered to be 
"managed".  Leaving a certain area in it's natural state or development, 
is also a form of management, purposely applied in the strategy for the 
overall management or development of the forest.  This was the cause for 
many discussions with local communities in the non-western world. NGO's 
mapped nearly all our forests as natural=wood, because, the common 
western user don't understand what forest management means in our local 
context, on a more global scale. Many non industrialised, non-western 
parts of the world still have forest reserves (notice, we call them 
forest reserves, not wood reserves), all managed by local communities, 
national or even international authorities.
It's not just economic exploitation or harvesting, management means much 
more.  Same goes for natural parks, wetlands etc... with which we have 
the same issues.  Many are protected, kept in their natural state, means 
they are managed, by national authorities or private organisations.  
Same applies for private and other forests.

So the point is, we need boundary mapping and tagging, to map all 
managed areas AND landuse to more accurately distinguish the parts 
within the boundaries.
If we have natural=wood in a forestry area, does that make it by 
definition a forest (as being a managed area), I would say no, the 
difference doesn't lay in the managed aspect but more in the harvesting 
and/or economical aspect. In this I would ask David again for his 
advise, how do we distinguish one from the other, how do we distinguish 
sustainable management strategies from non-suitainable or non natural 
strategies. Landuse=forest can then be redefined, not in conflict with 
most (not all) current use, in harmony and besides natural=wood and/or 
landcover tagging. Allowing us to make the map more accurate, the data 
more usable both for environmentalist and for economic purposes, 
verifiable by the common (global) mapper.
If it can't be established with one global definition, add local 
clarification when and where to use it.

So, co-exist, resolve the ambiguity but don't deprecate landuse=forest. 
It's popularity and use will become obvious, as is with the new 
boundaries, grow organically over time as we want, need and are making 
more detailed maps.

Many rejections and discussions are also about the verifiability vs 
ground truth principle.  This is inherent to all boundaries as it is to 
many other tagging schemes in OSM.  We have a mission there, to extend 
the verifiability principle, as it was attempted to some extend in this 
proposal.  Without going into details, it would be useful to start a 
separate thread for that.

My conclusion for the way forward:
1 Introduce the new boundary=forestry (this proposal)
2 Narrow and clarify the definition for landuse=forest, do not deprecate 
it (separate proposal), allow and clarify local variants and examples
3 Clarify and extend the acceptable verifiability and ground truth 
principle, for boundaries specifically (administrative AND others) AND 
OSM in general


Bert Araali

On 11/04/2021 19:54, David Marchal via Tagging wrote:
> Le dimanche, 11. avril 2021 18:34, Peter Elderson <pelderson at gmail.com> a écrit :
>> Though I agree that a move to natural=wood for all wooded areas would be beneficial, there is a big if: if it is supported by a majority, not of mailing list members but of mappers. I do not see such a majority.
> Nor can I, as there is no way to ask all contributors. The habits of some would need to evolve, of course, but it seems that this 75% approval rule is made for that: to tell mappers "Hey, a bunch of people meeted, and widely agreed that X should be done!", inciting them to do X. Nevertheless, I'm pretty sure that most people will agree on the confusion around this issue, and that things should evolve to remove this confusion.
>> I think at most a recommendation to move landuse=forest to natural=wood, pointing out the benefits,  would be in order. Once a movement/trend begins, you can estimate the growing support, and maybe at some point in time deprecation would be in order.
> I would have preferred such a solution and wanted to do that at a first, but how would you prevent such tagging migration to stall in-between and, in the end, having merely a seventh approach to forests in addition of the six already existing? This approach has, AFAIK, already been attempted, and fail. If you see a different path that can be tried to make it happen and finally solve the mess, I would love to know it, because I don't understand how to do it.
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