[Talk-us] misuse of the landuse=forest tag for national forests

stevea steveaOSM at softworkers.com
Sat May 11 20:59:28 UTC 2013

Hello Torsten:

Please see our wiki page regarding these data (USFS imported data for 
national forests and wildernesses) at 

Please see our wiki pages at 
http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Tag:landuse%3Dforest and 
http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Tag:natural%3Dwood regarding the 
differences between forest (actively managed forests where timber 
harvesting can and does take place, whether publicly or privately 
owned), and wood, which is "for ancient or virgin woodland, with no 
forestry use."

Quite arguably, all national forests ARE landuse=forest:  in my mind 
there is no clearer example of a landuse tag as "forest" matching so 
well as exactly those of the boundaries of national forests.  Also 
arguably, there are NO natural=wood polygons which would be 
appropriate in any national forest, as they are managed forests, not 
"ancient or virgin woodland, with no forestry use."  These two 
categories are mutually exclusive.

The protected_area tags are correct, on that we seem to agree. 
However, if there are other natural areas in such protected areas as 
national forests, which are correctly tagged landuse=forest (managed 
timber) which have other natural coverings, such as scrub or heath, 
you are perfectly welcome to add a natural=scrub tag (or whatever) 
where those natural landcovers are found, as appropriate.  Landcover 
is an emerging edge of OSM semantics, and there is much discussion 
about it:  http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Landcover is a good 
introduction, and 
discusses a major proposal now under way.

Also, http://wiki.openstreetmap.org/wiki/Protected_Area_Rendering 
shows that protected_area=6 (as national forests are/should be 
tagged) has specific polyline and dashing rules, but this (these 
rules) is/are proposals for the Kosmos renderer only.

No, natural=wood is not a "better" tag (whether in replacement or as 
an additional tag) to the tag of landuse=forest for national forests. 
There is no interpretation here:  as described above, natural=wood 
and landuse=forest are quite mutually exclusive.

(who recently uploaded the southern California national forests, with 
careful tagging and discussion both here and in the first wiki page 
mentioned above before doing so)

>I am relatively new to the talk-us list and have a question 
>concerning the landuse tags of national forests. Right now (at least 
>in southern california) all national forests are landuse=forest 
>which leads to large green areas on the map which look like they 
>originate from a very old video game with giant pixels. The 
>boundaries of the national forest often have nothing to do with the 
>actual landuse=forest/natural=wood boundaries. I would therefore 
>vote for deleting the landuse tag [and map it separately] leaving 
>the national forests only as protected_areas.
>Before doing this change I would like to have your input/opinion on the topic.
>I know that this should actually not be a concern but does anybody 
>know whether protected areas of level 6 (like national forests) are 
>rendered? (if not this might be a reason for the initial 
>landuse=forest tag, although this is clearly mapping for the 
>One more thing: When I look at the definition of the OSM map 
>features it seems that natural=wood seems to be a better tag. But 
>this depends a bit on the interpretation whether landuse=forest is 
>used for land that is primarily managed for timber production or for 
>woodland that is in some way maintained by humans.

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