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Logo. Feature : Landuse
One example for Feature : Landuse
Land use describes the human use of land, for example fields, pastures, and settlements.


This page provides an overview of landuse definition and tagging. See landuse=* for the equally named key.

Land use is the human use of land. Land use involves the management and modification of natural environment or wilderness into built environment such as fields, pastures, and settlements, also military, leisure and transportation.

This concept is distinct from 'Landcover' which describes the actual surface covering of the land; the landuse might be 'military', but the landcover might be heathland. OpenStreetMap tags do not always make this distinction as clear as it could, and in some situations concepts appear blurred.

Some of the amenity=*, leisure=* and tourism=* tags are also used to describe more details landuse. In some cases these more detailed uses may be the main landuse tag, in others it may provide supplementary information. For example a leisure=park tag may be used to describe a park within a landuse=residential area, or for a very large park may be the primary landuse.

Note that some of the values of landuse=* are not used to describe land use - for example landuse=forest is used to indicate any tree-covered area independent of how this area is used. And some use the tag landuse=forest to indicate how this area is used.

Table of some existing landuse tags

The following table is very much 'work in progress'. Click on the symbols in the headings to sort the tables in different ways. Note however that there is an ongoing discussion on how to tag landuse and landcover (see Proposed features/highway, Landcover proposal and Land use and areas of natural land):

Purpose Category Comment
Aerodrome (airport) Other aeroway=aerodrome and optional landuse=military if appropriate, or aerodrome=military
Airport Other See Aerodrome
Allotments Agriculture landuse=allotments
Basin Built environment landuse=basin Describes a man made water control or storage device.
Beach Natural or Built environment natural=beach. leisure=beach_resort describes a feature at the beach.
Brownfield Built environment landuse=brownfield
Cemetery Built environment rarely also Natural landuse=cemetery
College Built environment amenity=college
Commercial Built environment landuse=commercial
Construction Built environment landuse=construction
Depot Built environment landuse=depot
Farm land Agriculture landuse=farmland and landuse=farmyard
Forestry Agriculture landuse=forest. For areas with a high density of trees primarily grown for timber. See section about problematic values.
Garages Built environment landuse=garages (often within landuse=residential).
Grazing Agriculture For pasture used for grazing animals or for hay or silage for animals consider landuse=meadow. For other uses of grass consider using surface=grass and see Landcover.
Greenfield Built environment landuse=greenfield is used to describe land that has been scheduled for some sort of construction.
Greenhouses Agriculture landuse=greenhouse_horticulture
Highways Built environment No approved tag at present, but there is a proposal to use landuse=highway for the purpose.
Hospital Built environment amenity=hospital
Industrial Built environment landuse=industrial
Landfill Other landuse=landfill
Meadow Agriculture landuse=meadow
Military Military landuse=military, and optionally also military=naval_base, military=range, military=danger_area and military=barracks. For military aerodrome use aeroway=aerodrome and aerodrome=military or military=airfield.
Nature reserve Leisure leisure=nature_reserve. See also boundary=protected_area and the discussion about terms (International consistency)
Orchard Agriculture landuse=orchard
Park Leisure leisure=park (for smaller parks to be part of landuse=residential.
Plant nursery Agriculture landuse=plant_nursery
Quarry Other landuse=quarry
Railway Built environment landuse=railway
Recreation ground Built environment landuse=recreation_ground
Religious Built environment landuse=religious
Reservoir Other landuse=reservoir or man_made=reservoir_covered or newer tagging natural=water + water=reservoir
Residential Built environment landuse=residential
Retail Built environment landuse=retail
School Built environment amenity=school. Often with a landuse=residential area.
Salt pond Natural landuse=salt_pond
University Built environment amenity=university. Possibly included within a broader landuse category.
Village green Leisure landuse=village_green
Vineyard Agriculture landuse=vineyard
Waste water treatment Other man_made=wastewater_plant

key:landuse values not used to indicate land use in all cases

The following landuse tags may not actually be a land use.

Purpose Comment
Grass landuse=grass does not describe a land use, it describes a Landcover, the tag landcover=grass may be used but it is not presently popular nor commonly rendered.
Forest landuse=forest is hard to distinguish from natural=wood as both usually have trees. Determining if the trees are actually used and in what way is difficult. See Forest for more details. Simplest would be to tag the Landcover landcover=trees, this simply says there are trees in this area but this tag is not presently popular nor commonly rendered.

Mapping as nodes

Landuse by its nature is an area, but if it is not feasible to map features as an area it is OK to map landuse as node and update it to area once possible. It is typically because both aerial and GPS traces of shape are unavailable. For example it is preferable to map landuse=cemetery as node rather than not mapping it at all.

Note that some other landuses like landuse=railway are almost completely useless as nodes and not worth mapping in this form.


See also