Forest

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Logo. Feature : Forest
One example for Feature : Forest
Description
How to describe forest or woodland. There are some tagging approaches.
Tags

A forest or woodland is an area covered by trees. Two different tags are used to describe this: natural=wood and landuse=forest. There are major differences in the way these are used by OpenStreetMap mappers. This problem is explained below.

Which tag should be used?

The differences in tagging woodland essentially result from different approaches to document human management and use of woodland areas. The following approaches are advocated by different groups:

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. This is only used rarely (only ~36 instances in database [1][2])

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

  • wood=yes is used to mark the presence or absence of trees. Use of wood=* is deprecated for indicating vegetation types but wood=yes is still used. It is however fairly uncommon.
  • 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

Approach 5

  • landcover=trees is used to mark the presence of trees. It does not imply the use nor origin of the trees.

Discussion

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.
  • Approach 5
    • Simple
    • No need to identify use nor origin of the trees.
    • Where known the use and/or origin of the trees can be tagged.

Disadvantages of each approach

  • Approach 1
  • Approach 3
    • Requires the mapper to make a distinction that can be very difficult.
  • Approach 4
    • Uses the wood=* key which has gone out of favor for other purposes.
    • Is fairly uncommon.
  • Approach 5

General problem with this tagging scheme

When mapping from aerial or satellite images is usually very difficult to determine if a woodland area is used for forestry. This can be difficult even for the observer on the ground. As result people de facto use landuse=forest and natural=wood fairly arbitrarily.

Additional tags

  • name=* - name of the forest
  • landcover=trees
  • leaf_type=broadleaved/needleleaved/mixed - describes the type of leaves.
  • leaf_cycle=deciduous/evergreen/mixed - describes the phenology of leaves.
  • wood=coniferous/deciduous/mixed - type of wood. These tags are deprecated!
  • type=deciduous/evergreen/shrubs/mixed - for reasons why type is not desirable, see type=*
  • crop=* - Describes the type of crop

Rendering

Green area. When leaf_type=* is set, show little broad leaved or coniferous (or both) icons.

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. Automated edits are strongly discouraged unless you really know what you are doing!


See also

Related OSM projects

Wiki for all environment and natural tags and projects Environmental_OSM