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

stevea steveaOSM at softworkers.com
Sun May 12 05:04:53 UTC 2013

>>Please don't confuse "land cover" with the
>>political/jurisdictional and geographical definition of "inside the
>>boundaries of a national forest."
>One more remark. Shouldn't the political/jurisdictional and 
>geographical definition of "inside the boundaries of a national 
>forest be defined by the boundary-, protected area-, and 
>park:type=national_forest- tags? Moreover, how can one tag a 
>physical forest (areas with trees present) inside the national 

Boundary, yes.  (As Greg Troxel pointed out as "one of the three 
things going on here:  boundaries, landuse and land cover"). 
Protected area, yes.  The park:type tag seems to be a more recent 
(circa 2009/2010) "invention" by Apo42, a California-based OSM 
volunteer who also maps in Austria.  (Being somewhat local to one 
another, he and I have gone on hikes together and discuss OSM more 
than occasionally).    I'll let Apo speak for himself, but I really 
like the park:type tag, so I use it extensively.  It seems to be 
something he started with his CASIL-based California State Park 
uploads, but it is quite extensible to park:type=county_park, 
city_park, private_park (and more), so I continue to use that sort of 
syntax when it makes sense to do so.  However, I also believe the 
park:type tag to not be widely used outside of California, nor is it 
well-documented on OSM's wiki pages (to the best of my knowledge).

I do agree with Mike Thompson's statement:  "If neither of the two 
tags being discussed (landuse=forest, natural=wood) are appropriate 
for tagging a generic area covered by trees (regardless if it is 
"virgin", "managed"), it would be really helpful to have a tag that 
could be used for this (i.e. indicate what the *landcover* is).  This 
information is useful when navigating the back country."  Yet, I 
continue to believe that a proper landcover=* tag is the right way to 
do this.  Simultaneously, I think it proper that national forests 
have a landuse=forest tag, (in addition to proper boundary= and 
protected_area= tags) even though they MAY or MAY NOT be "just 
trees."  My reasoning:  "landuse=forest" means a managed forest land, 
even if not exactly 100% of it is covered by trees.  Such an area 
that had 50% of its trees cut down (it IS a managed forest!) would 
STILL be a managed forest, even though at least half of it is "not 
now trees."

What I'm really saying is "I agree we could use better landcover 
tagging."  I'm not alone here.

Wilderness areas are WITHIN national forests and are designated with 
the leisure=nature_reserve tag.  This was discussed with my email 
interaction with Troy Warburton of the USFS in Talk-us Digest, Vol 
64, Issue 1.

Here are the tags I use for National Forests within the jurisdiction 
of the US Department of Agriculture's Forest Service:
protection_title=National Forest
name=Name of Forest

And here are the tags I use for Wilderness areas WITHIN National Forests:
name=Name of Wilderness

Further answering Mike Thompson, I don't think it odd at all that 
"parts of the U.S. National Forests are not treed, for example, parts 
that are above treeline."  The parts that are still "in" the forest 
are still "in" the forest (which is what landuse=forest implies), 
even if they are above the treeline and don't have trees.  Yes, it 
seems confusing, but only if you think "landuse=forest" implies "all 
trees."  It doesn't:  it implies "all managed forest, whether with or 
without trees."

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