|Area covered by man-made coverage
Areas altered by human activities like construction, mining or waste disposal are considered to be artificial. Mapping of artificial areas is important for several reasons. For example, detecting the human settlements in the middle of the forest could be the indicator of deforestation. Apart from that, information about artificial surface can be useful for urban planning and/or crisis response. Given that, for example, phenomena of deforestation is easier to map by photo interpretation of satellite imagery, existing tags are not completely convenient because they are more suited for on-site use.
Artificial surface size and spatial distribution varies a lot. Those can be, for example, single object of electric infrastructure in remote areas, small settlements in the forest, airports, megalopolis etc.
landcover=artificial can be considered as a broader definition of the following tags: landuse=quarry, landuse=residential, or landuse=industrial. Key man_made=* with all its values (e.g. man_made=chimney, man_made=water_tap, man_made=observatory) can be considered as a very detailed description of “artificial” as it shows singular artificial structures. Land use and type of singular structures are most of the time visible only on-site, while the "artificial" tag is intended for use in remote mapping (from satellite imagery) for which distinguishing type of artificial surface is a challenging task.
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