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Public-images-osm logo.svg natural = wood
Biogradska suma.jpg
Woodland with no forestry.
Used on these elements
may be used on nodes
should not be used on ways
may be used on areas
use on relations unspecified
Useful combination
See also
Status: Approved

Woodland with no forestry.

There are major differences in the way this tag and landuse=forest are used by Openstreetmap users. Some use this tag to show an area is covered in trees, others use it for woodland not impacted by human maintenance. This problem is explained below under Notes.


natural=wood applies to nodes and areas.

Additional tags

  • name=* - name of woodland
  • leaf_type=broadleaved/needleleaved/mixed - describes the type of leaves.
  • leaf_cycle=deciduous/evergreen/mixed - describes the phenology of leaves.


When tagging woodland, three approaches are advocated by different groups:

Firstly, forestry is commonly used in Openstreetmap to describe the use of land to grow trees for timber, paper, etc.

Approach 1

  • natural=wood is used to mark areas covered by trees.
  • landuse=forest is used to mark areas of land managed for forestry.
  • woodland=virgin is used to mark areas of virgin woodland unmanaged by man.

Approach 2

Approach 3

  • landuse=forest is used for maintained or managed woodland. This approach views most woodland as managed or maintained especially in areas such as Europe.
  • natural=wood is used for ancient or virgin woodland, with no forestry use.

Approach 4 (key wood now deprecated)

* wood=* is used to mark the presence or absence of trees.

  • natural=wood is used to mark areas of unmanaged forest. It implies wood=yes
  • landuse=forest is used to mark areas of managed forest. It implies wood=yes


The use of these tags has become the subject of much debate due to inconsistent application, and wooly term usage.

Advantages of each approach

  • Approach 1
    • Tags appear consistent – having trees on is not a "land use".
    • Allows for woods to be marked in areas where other landuses exist (e.g. areas of trees in the middle of a quarry)
    • Does not require the tagger to make a distinction between managed and virgin woodland, which can be near impossible to make even for someone surveying the area.
    • Allows for tagging of areas of commercial forestry which are not currently wooded (landuse=forest + natural=scrub).
    • Is more consistent with tagging of other features such as reservoirs, which are tagged natural=water, along with their land use.
  • Approach 3
    • More commonly used after a bot was used to retag existing woodland this way.
  • Approach 4
    • As for Approach 1
    • Uses only existing tags.
    • Existing tagging largely retains its meaning.
    • Further landuses might be specified to distinguish between forest managed for decorative/leisure use, lumber/pulp production, or ecological improvement.

Problem with this tagging scheme

This difference is impossible to maintain during mapping as typically forests are mapped from aerial images. And checking whatever it is woodland without forestry requires extensive survey (what worse, just visiting forest is not enough). What worse, there is no consistent definition. As result people de facto use landuse=forest and natural=forest by selecting random one.


Mapnik Osmarender OpenCycleMap

 ?  ?
Possible rendering of woodland
Tag Rendering Comment Pictures
leaf_type=broadleaved Wood deciduous.png Broadleaved woodland. WaldAlfeld.jpg Aerial view of the Amazon Rainforest.jpg
leaf_type=needleleaved Wood coniferous.png Needleleaved woodland. Swiss National Park 131.JPG Pinus canariensis (Barlovento) 06 ies.jpg
leaf_type=mixed Wood mixed.png Mixed woodland. Mixed forest-Poland spring.jpg 09272008 BrightonUT.JPG

Tagging mistakes

landuse=wood - If you know places with this tag, verify if it could be tagged with another tag. You must not do automated edits!

See also

Related terms: <woods> <forest>