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Public-images-osm logo.svg protect_class
National park.png
To describe the class of a protected area. Edit or translate this description.
Group: Boundaries
Used on these elements
may be used on nodesshould not be used on waysmay be used on areasshould not be used on relations
Documented values: 7
Useful combination
Status: in use

protect_class=* is used to describe the category of boundary=protected_area. See protected area of Conservation for more details.


The nature of the protected area is identified using protect_class=1 to 99 which are divided into four categories:

  • Conservation Land as defined by international definitions (1-6)
  • Other types of nature conservation (7, 97-99),
  • Resources conservation for important single resources(11-19) and
  • Social conservation for community and architecture (21-29).

The tables "Protect classes for various countries" below, provide guidance on the use of protect_class in specific countries.

Note that several of the values were proposed but have been very rarely used (for example, 11, 15, 16, 23, and 26).

In some cases other tags are more common: boundary=national_park instead of 2, boundary=aboriginal_lands instead of 24, military=* instead of 25.


Protected nature and landscape in ecosystem context, including promoted culture habits. Switch to the table of countries >>

Main Protected Area[1] Categories
Class Description Examples Rendering in
protect_class=1a Strict Nature Reserve (IUCN Category Ia)[1]: "...strictly set aside to protect biodiversity and also possibly geological/geomorphological features, where human visitation, use and impacts are strictly controlled and limited to ensure protection of the conservation values. Such protected areas can serve as indispensable reference areas for scientific research and monitoring." (IUCN definition)

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protect_class=1b or protect_class=1 Wilderness Area (IUCN Category Ib): "...usually large unmodified or slightly modified areas, retaining their natural character and influence, without permanent or significant human habitation, which are protected and managed so as to preserve their natural condition." (IUCN definition)

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protect_class=2 National Park (IUCN Category II): "Large natural or near natural areas set aside to protect large-scale ecological processes, species and ecosystems... which also provide a foundation for environmentally and culturally compatible spiritual, scientific, educational, recreational and visitor opportunities." (IUCN definition)

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protect_class=3 Natural Monument or Feature (IUCN Category III): "...protect a specific natural monument, which can be a landform, sea mount, submarine cavern, geological feature such as a cave or even a living feature such as an ancient grove. They are generally quite small protected areas and often have high visitor value." Cultural and archaeological important (IUCN definition)

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protect_class=4 Habitat/Species Management Area (IUCN Category IV): "...aim to protect particular species or habitats and management reflects this priority. Many category IV protected areas will need regular, active interventions to address the requirements of particular species or to maintain habitats, but this is not a requirement..." (IUCN definition)

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protect_class=5 Protected Landscape/Seascape (IUCN Category V): "...area where the interaction of people and nature over time has produced an area of distinct character with significant ecological, biological, cultural and scenic value: and where safeguarding the integrity of this interaction is vital to protecting and sustaining the area and its associated nature conservation and other values." (IUCN definition)

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protect_class=6 Protected area with sustainable use of natural resources (IUCN Category VI): "...conserve ecosystems and habitats, together with associated cultural values and traditional natural resource management systems. They are generally large, with most of the area in a natural condition, where a proportion is under sustainable natural resource management and where low-level non-industrial use of natural resources compatible with nature conservation is seen as one of the main aims of the area." (IUCN definition)

For small areas and single-value-protection see also resources-protected-area: protect_class=11 to 19.

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Other Nature Protected Area Categories
Class Description* Examples Rendering in
7 nature-feature area: similar to 4. but without IUCN-level. Some habitats are protected by local- or district-law: areas to protect one specie, special cover of vegetation, geological site, ... (not rendered)
97 protected by continental agreements. They often cover sites already protected by national law. Asia: ASEAN Heritage, Europe: Smaragd-Network of the European Council, "Natura 2000" (FFH, Birdareas), European greenbelt, ... (not rendered)
98 protected by interstate- or international conventions. They often cover sites already protected by national law. A cross-border Nationalpark with IUCN-level should belong to 2. World Heritage Convention, UNESCO-MAB Reserve, Wetlands of International Importance ("Ramsar"), ... or the "Barcelona Convention" by states bordering the Mediterranean Sea. African - Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA), ... (not rendered)
99 other continental or international. (not rendered) protect_class=99


Protected areas with a focus on single natural resources, including human living space itself, because of an important natural material or characteristic. Mostly appointed on community level. Switch to the table of countries.

Class Description Rendering in
12 water: water protection area, fresh water, drinking water, springs, ... (not rendered)
14 species: no fishing, protected for fishery, protected for hunting, plants, ... (not rendered)
15 location condition: floodwater retention area, protection forest, grazing land, ... (not rendered)
16 longtime hazard area: contamination, earth-moving area, "problem sites" ... (not rendered)
19 other national, This tag was used by an import in Poland for "Użytek ekologiczny" areas (not rendered)


Important social interests. Visualize sociopolitical assets. Switch to the table of countries.

Class Description Rendering in
21 Community life: religious, sacred areas, associative locations, recreation (this sense of "recreation" has given rise to value 21 being assigned to some state parks in the USA) (not rendered)
22 Cultural assets (cultural assets and - efforts, districts historical heritage, monument conservation):
protection of sites with special architecture or historic interest, designed and created intentionally by people: urban layout, buildings, landscape, gardens, art-goods, ...

More commonly tagged with: historic=* and/or heritage=*

(not rendered)
23 Protection in favor of economics: special economic zones, ... [See Proposed_features/Special_economic_zone ] (not rendered)
24 Political protection:
reservation / indigenous area / aboriginal: self-governing communities with land + indigenous: in OSM existent, see "boundary=aboriginal_lands"
state-boundaries: in OSM existent, see "boundary=administrative"
(not rendered)
27 Public land: Public ground owned by Government entity (see discussion: it is no guaranty for protection, it is an owner-info for add.-tags!). More commonly tagged as government=* (not rendered)

Discouraged, legacy, and unused values of protect_class=*

Legacy values of protect_class=*
Class Description* Rendering in
protect_class=11 soil: crop yield, erosion protection, ... [This tag was proposed but never used] (not rendered)
protect_class=13 climate and -air: gasper supply/cold air, ... [This tag was proposed but never used. See boundary=low_emission_zone (LEZ).] (not rendered)
25 Military areas: military refuges, test area, ...
with regard to contents this is correct, however in OSM existent, see military=*, landuse=military and Map_Features#Military instead.
(not rendered)
26 Historic: "for colonial-era entities and protectorates". More commonly tagged with: historic=* and/or heritage=*. (not rendered)
29 other social, not yet classified for ID 21 to 28. [This tag was proposed but has never been used] (not rendered)

Protect classes for various countries

The tables below provide guidance on the use of protect_class in different countries. If your country is undocumented then ask the appropriate (government) administration, use the talk page or your local mailing list for discussion and than add it below or add it to the "other"-levels. The following labeling is based upon the "IUCN Category" ... try to add ("harmonise") your country's protection-system to the table.


Switch to the description

Conservation Lands with an IUCN Category
Country 1a, 1b 2 3 4 5 6
Australia In Australia there is no general relationship between the title given to a protected area and its IUCN category. Tagging should be based on data from (CAPAD)[1]
Austria 1a: Naturzone, Biosphärenpark-Kernzone;

1b: Bewahrungszone

Nationalpark Naturdenkmal, geschützte Höhle, besonders geschützte Höhle Naturschutzgebiet Landschaftsschutzgebiet Naturpark
Bolivia source - Parque Nacional / National Park Monumento Natural / Natural Monument Santuario, Reservas de Vida Silvestre / Sanctuary (endemic flora & fauna), Wildlife Reserves Patrimonio Natural y Paisajístico / Landscape Natural Heritage Área Natural de Manejo Integrado / Integrated Management Natural Area
Brazil Biological Reserve, State Ecological Station National Park, State Park, State Marine Park Wildlife Refuge State Area of Outstanding Ecological Interest State Environmental Protection Area Extractive Reserve, National Forest, State Sustainable Development Reserve, Extractive Reserve, National Forest
1a: Natuurreservaat
1b: Wildernisgebied
Nationaal park Natuurmonument Biotoop Beschermd landschap Ecosysteem
Wallonia Source
1a: Réserves naturelles domaniales (RND) et réserves naturelles agréées (RNA) intégrales - - Réserves naturelles domaniales (RND) et réserves naturelles agréées (RNA) dirigées, cavités souterraines d'intérêt scientifique (CSIS), zone humide d'intérêt biologique (ZHIB) Parc Naturel Réserve forestière (RF)


source (en)

Резерват (Reserve) Национален парк (National Park) Природна забележителност (Natural Landmark) Поддържан резерват



Природен парк

(Natural Park)

Защитена местност (Protected area)
Canada Wilderness Area, Nature Conservancy of Canada Lands (Ia), Nature Reserve (Ia), Ecological Reserve (Ia), Special Place (Ia), Migratory Bird Sanctuary, Migratory Bird Refuge (Ia), Provincial Park, Territorial Park, Migratory Bird Sanctuary, National Historic Site, National Historic Park, Migratory Bird Sanctuary, -Refuge, Wildlife Management Area, Migratory Bird Sanctuary, Eastern Habitat Joint Venture Lands, Conservation Authority Area,Conservation Area, Recreation Site, Faunal Habitat, Salmon River, Wildlife Habitat - Waterfowl Gathering Area, Community Pasture, Migratory Bird Sanctuary,
China National Nature Reserves National Parks/National Geoparks/National Forest Parks/National Wetland Parks/National Desert Parks/National Water Parks/National Special Marine Protected Areas National Closed Sandified Land Protected Areas/National Typical Earthquake Sites National Domestic Animal Genetic Resources Conservation Areas/National Aquatic Germplasm Resources Conservation Areas/National Wood (Flower) Parks - -
Colombia - National Park / Parques Nacionales Naturales (PNN) y Reservas Nacionales Naturales (RNN) National Nature Monument / Área natural única Protected Site ( Santuarios de Flora y Fauna Regional Park /Parques Regionales Naturales (PRN) Área de Reserva Forestal (ARF)
Croatia Strict Reserve / Strogi rezervat National Park / Nacionalni park Special Reserve / Posebni rezervat Nature park / Park prirode Regional park /Regionalni park Nature monument / Spomenik prirode
Czech Republic National Nature Reserve, Nature Reserve National Park National Nature Monument, Natural Monument Protected Site Protected Landscape Area -
France Réserve intégrale Cœur de Parc national Réserve naturelle nationale (si réserve géologique), Réserve naturelle régionale (si réserve géologique), sites classés et inscrits Réserve naturelle nationale, Réserve naturelle régionale, Réserve biologique, Réserve nationale de chasse et faune sauvage, Sites du Conservatoire du Littoral Aire d'adhésion de Parc national, Parc naturel régional, Parc naturel marin, Sites du Conservatoire du Littoral Parc naturel marin
Germany - Nationalpark - Naturschutzgebiet Naturpark, Landschaftsschutzgebiet -
India National parks in India Wildlife sanctuaries of India
Iran پارک ملی
National Park
اثر طبیعی ملی
National Natural Monument
پناهگاه حیات وحش
Wildlife Refuge
منطقه حفاظت شده
Protected Area
- Parco Nazionale, Parco Naturale Regionale, Area Naturale Marina Monumento Naturale, Sito Archeologico Riserva Naturale Statale/Regionale, Biotopo, Area Naturale Marina Zona umida, Area Protetta, Oasi, Parco Urbano, ecc. -
Panama (IUCN-Ib) Reserva Científica Parque Nacional Monumento Natural Refugio de Vida Silvestre Reserva Hidrológica;
Paisaje Protegido;
Área Natural Recreativa
Reserva Forestal;
Área de Recursos Manejados
Philippines Wilderness Area National Park, Natural Park Natural Monument Bird Sanctuary, Wildlife Sanctuary Protected Landscape, Protected Seascape, Protected Landscape and Seascape, Managed Resource Protected Area, Natural Biotic Area Resource Reserve, Watershed Forest Reserve
Portugal Parque Nacional,

Parque Natural

Paisagem Protegida (*issued by National Authority),

Monumento Natural,

Sítio Classificado

Reserva Natural Paisagem Protegida (*issued by Local/Regional Authority),

Paisagem Protegida Regional,

Paisagem Protegida Local

Área Protegida Privada
Russia Zapovednik National Park Nature Monument Zakasnik -
Slovakia National Nature Reserve, Nature Reserve National Park National Nature Monument, Natural Monument Protected Site Protected Landscape Area -
Spain Integral Natural Reserves (Reservas Naturales Integrales) National Park (Parque Nacional) Natural Monument (Monumento Natural, Geoparque) Natural Reserves (Reservas Naturales), Protected Marine Area (Área Marina Protegida), (Site of Scientific Interest (Sitio de Interés Científico), Special Natural Reserve (Reserva Natural Especial) Natural Park (Parque Natural), Protected Landscape (Paisaje Protegido), Natural Areas of Special Interest (Áreas Naturales de Especial Interés) Rural Park (Parque Rural), Regional Park (Parque Regional)
South Africa Wilderness area National Park (Run by SANParks Natural Monument (e.g. Table Mountain) Provincial Reserve , Cape Nature Reserve (, KZN Parks (
Ukraine Nature Reserve, Zapovednik (Природний заповідник) National Nature Park, National Park (Національний природний парк) Natural Monument, Natural Nature Monument (Пам'ятка природи) Zakaznyk (Заказник); Conservation Stow (Заповідне урочище) Regional Landscape Park (Регіональний ландшафтний парк); Botanic Garden (Ботанічний сад); Dendrological Park (Дендрологічний парк); Zoological Park (Зоологічний парк); Park-monument of Landscape Art (Парк-пам'ятка садово-парковогомистецтва) -
United Kingdom National Nature Reserve Site of Special Scientific Interest, Nature Reserves owned by RSPB, Wildlife Trusts, etc National Park, Area of Outstanding National Beauty (England, Wales, Northern Ireland), National Scenic Area (Scotland)
United States Consult the US Geological Survey Protected Area Database for IUCN categorization for all national, as well as most regional and state protected areas. Additional tagging guidelines can be found at United_States/Public_lands.

Other Nature-protected-areas

Country 7 97 98 99
Australia - - UNESCO-MAB Biosphere Reserve, Ramsar-Wetlands,World Heritage Convention other international, not yet classified
Austria - Natura2000-Gebiet, Vogelschutzgebiet, Europaschutzgebiet Biosphärenpark -
Bolivia source Reserva Natural de Inmovilización / Natural Reserve of Immobilization - Reserva de Biósfera, Humedales Ramsar, Convención del Patrimonio Mundial / UNESCO-MAB Biosphere Reserve, Ramsar-Wetlands, World Heritage Convention -
Brazil - - UNESCO-MAB Biosphere Reserve, Ramsar-Wetlands,World Heritage Convention other international, not yet classified
- Vogelbroedplaats - -


source (en)

- Натура 2000 (EU Naturа 2000) Биосферен резерват по програмата на ЮНЕСКО "Човекът и биосферата"(UNESCO-MAB) Други неквалифицирани международни зони (other international, not yet classified)
Canada Agreement Forest, Protective Forest, Operational Parks and Reserves, National Capital Commission Area, Recreation Site, Natural Area, Migratory Bird Sanctuary - UNESCO-MAB Biosphere Reserve, Ramsar-Wetlands,World Heritage Convention other international, not yet classified
Croatia Significant landscape / Značajan krajobraz - - -
Czech Republic - Natura 2000 - other international, not yet classified
France - Natura 2000 UNESCO-MAB Biosphere Reserve, Ramsar-Wetlands,World Heritage Convention -
Germany Geschützer Biotop, -Landschaftsbestandteil, Naturdenkmal, Horstschutzgebiet, Waldschutzgebiete (Schon- und Bannwald), Gewässerschutz, ... Natura 2000: Site of Community Interest (SCI), FFH-Gebiet (SAC), Vogelschutzgebiet (SPA), Emerald-Gebiete. European greenbelt, ... UNESCO-MAB Biosphere Reserve, Ramsar-Feuchtgebiete, Welterbe, ... weitere internationale, noch nicht klassifiziert.
Natura 2000: Sito di Importanza Comunitaria (SIC), Zona di Protezione Speciale (ZPS), Zona Speciale di Conservazione (ZSC), Convenzione delle Alpi Convenzione di Ramsar, UNESCO-MAB Biosphere Reserve,
Philippines - ASEAN Heritage Parks UNESCO-MAB Biosphere Reserve, Ramsar-Wetlands, World Heritage Convention other international, not yet classified
Portugal Natura 2000 UNESCO-MAB,


Russia Ramsar-Wetlands, World Heritage Convention, UNESCO-MAB Biosphere Reserve, ... other international, not yet classified
Slovakia - - - other international, not yet classified
Spain Natura 2000 European Ecological Network areas (Zonas de la Red Ecológica Europea Natura 2000): LIC, ZEC, ZEPA, and Habitats of Community Interest (Hábitats de Interés Comunitario) UNESCO-MAB Biosphere Reserves (UNESCO-MAB Reservas de la Biosfera), Ramsar Wetlands (Humedales Ramsar), World Heritage Convention
South Africa Private Nature Reserve (Not run by government)
Ukraine - - UNESCO-MAB Biosphere Reserve (Біосферний заповідник); Ramsar-Wetlands (Водно-болотні угіддя міжнародного значення) other international, not yet classified
United Kingdom
due to publishing restrictions, data not on the WDPA
Local Nature Reserve Ramsar Wetland other international, not yet classified
United States - - - other international, not yet classified


Switch to the description.

Country 11 12 13 14 15 16 19
Australia Water Catchment Protection Areas other national, ...
Austria - Quellschutzgebiet, Wasserschutzgebiet IG Luft - Bannwald Altlast, Überschwemmungsgebiet, Hochwasserzone -
Waterwinningsgebied Jachtgebied andere, niet geclassificeerd
Canada Game Preserve, ... other national, ...
Germany Bodenschutz Trinkwasserschutz, Trinkwassergewinnung, Heilquellenschutz, ... Kaltluftentstehung, Frischluftversorgung, Immissionsschutz-, ... Angelverbot, Fischereischutzzone, Jagdschutzgebiet, ... Retentionsraum, Schutzwald, Standort, Kontaminationsfläche, Bodenbewegungsgebiet, ... weitere, nicht klassifiziert
Philippines Game Refuge, Marine Reserve other national
United States State Forest EPA Superfund site


Switch to the description.

Country 21 22 23 24 (possibly being deprecated by boundary=aboriginal_lands) 25 27* [2]) 29
Australia monument conservation other social
Austria Kulturdenkmal, UNESCO-Kulturerbe (Truppenübungsplatz, Kaserne, Fernmeldeanlage, Munitionslager)
Brazil Indigenous Protected Areas other social, ...
Colombia - - - Indigenous Protected Areas and Afro Colombian Protected Areas: Resguardos indígenas y Tierras de Comunidades Negras - - -
Germany Denkmalschutz - weitere sozial bestimmte
Philippines UNESCO Cultural Heritage Sites Special Economic Zones Ancestral Domains/Lands other social
Portugal UNESCO World Heritage List, MN - Monumento Nacional, MIP - Monumento de Interesse Público, SIP - Sítio de Interesse Público, IIP - Imóvel de Interesse Público, IIM - Imóvel de Interesse Municipal, IM - Interesse Municipal
Spain UNESCO Patrimonio de la Humanidad, Bien de Interés Cultural (BIC)
Switzerland Kulturgüterschutz (KGS Swiss Inventory) - - - - -
United Kingdom Conservation area
United States state parks, county parks, township parks, town parks [3] monument conservation Indigenous Protected Areas (Federal) Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), federal public lands which are not (federal) US Department of Agriculture's US Forest Service (USFS), State Land Trust. other social
  1. 1.0 1.1 International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)[4]