Australian Tagging Guidelines/Land and boundaries

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Where possible, the mapping practice in Australia follows the global guidelines and practices for tagging. However, there are multiple different methods and standards for denoting land usage and administrative boundaries. This page is intended to document the preferred practice of the Australian Mapping Community, and keep a common record of Australia-specific mapping methods.

Land use

Government Resources

Land use mapping in Australia is actively considered by different government departments and private organisations which classify land into different categories and uses. The Land Use and Management Classification system is designed to standardise land use mapping by state and territory governments and is a useful resource when accessing license-compatible official data sources.

The frequency of land use change in human-dominated landscapes varies considerably. Some land uses may be relatively stable, remaining in place over decades or more. In other cases, land use turnover may be extremely rapid—particularly where land use change is geared to seasonal or annual cycles (for example, crop pasture rotations). Where rapid turnover occurs, the temporal mismatch between source data and field verification poses difficulties.

— The Australian Land Use and Management Classification (Version 8), [W] Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics [1]

Protected Areas

There are many different legal instruments used by state and territory governments to conserve the environment or protect heritage. The preferred tagging is boundary=protected_area in conjunction with the appropriate protect_class=*. While some countries have specific naming conventions that correlate to a specific class category, protected areas in Australia do not follow a standard naming pattern.

When determining the appropriate protection class for an area, refer to the definitions included in the Collaborative Australian Protected Area Database (CAPAD).

Protected Areas in Australia
Tag Description
(if Aust. specific)
Aust. Usage Example
protect_class=1 way Little Island
protect_class=2 The alternative tagging method boundary=national_park is discouraged in Australia. relation Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park
protect_class=3 relation Discovery Bay Coastal Park
protect_class=4 relation Yourka Nature Refuge
protect_class=5 relation Lerderderg River Heritage River
protect_class=6 relation Witjira National Park
protect_class=7 relation Rottnest Island State Reserve
protect_class=12 Water Catchment Protection Areas relation Mangrove Creek Dam Water Catchment
protect_class=21 relation Yarra Bend Park
protect_class=22 Monument/Cultural conservation relation Walhalla Historic Area
protect_class=24 The alternative tagging method boundary=aboriginal_lands is discouraged in Australia. (See Australia's First Peoples) relation lungatalanana Indigenous Protected Area
protect_class=98 relation Great Barrier Reef


For the purposes of the natural=desert tag, a desert in Australia should meet the criteria defined in the Köppen–Geiger climate classification system. The relation Australian Desert was delineated and added through rainfall and climate data processing as defined at Import/Australian Delineated Desert Areas.


Administrative Boundaries

Administrative boundaries (boundary=administrative) in Australia are regularly imported from authoritative sources, and are assumed to be accurate. Editing these boundaries is strongly discouraged, and modifications to administrative boundaries that do not align with authoritative sources are likely to be reverted.

As these boundaries are visible and editable in all editing tools, inadvertent modification of administrative boundaries is not uncommon. If you are a new mapper who has modified a boundary, don't be discouraged: even experienced editors mistakenly alter a boundary in the course of their regular edits. The section Avoiding accidental modifications of the boundary=administrative page may help prevent future accidents.

Administration Levels

The values of the admin_level=* tag is specific to each country. In Australia the following values are used.

Australian administration levels
Admin Level Description Example
admin_level=4 State and Territory borders relation South Australia
admin_level=6 Local Government Areas (LGAs) and Unincorporated Areas borders relation City of Mandurah, relation Unincorporated Far West Region
admin_level=7 (ACT only) District borders relation District of Majura
admin_level=9 Suburb/Locality borders relation Upper Mount Gravatt