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

Martin Koppenhoefer dieterdreist at gmail.com
Sun May 12 11:30:40 UTC 2013

2013/5/12 stevea <steveaOSM at softworkers.com>

> 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."

Yes, basically the actual use of landuse=forest is: "there are trees"
(judging from how people use this tag broadly, e.g. look into cities in
europe or the country side where it is mapped in high detail). I've tried
for years to establish the (somehow orthogonal) tag "landcover=trees" to
have a semantically better tagging to simply say: "there are trees", but as
long as it is not rendered there is very few chance that it will be widely

Still, "landuse" IMHO isn't a good choice to tag a "named" forest, i.e. a
geographically defined area which has mainly trees on it, because this
practice would require a lot of overlapping landuses, what should not be
done (because generally most bigger "forests" (with a name) can be split
into smaller forests with different names (for the smaller lots), and those
can again be seen as parts of even smaller forests, ...), and also, because
inside these huge landuse-polygons there would be lots of areas which
belong to "the forest" (with the name), but whose landuse isn't forest
(there are no trees, but other stuff, say, farmland, lakes, scrub, small
settlements, ...)

My solution is to interpret the key "natural" as a key for geographical
features (look at the values in natural, it is already mostly like this,
e.g. spring, bay, peak, pass, cliff, coastline, wetland, heath, ...), so
that there could be natural=wood/forest (don't care which to choose,
probably natural=forest would be better as it is currently not defined) to
map the entity "forest with a name" (or geographical region), regardless
whether it is managed or not. For natural reserves (and unmanaged forests
will be this), we already have better tags like "boundary=protected_area"
or even the generic leisure=nature_reserve (which I personally don't like
very much, as this is not about "leisure" IMHO).

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