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Public-images-osm logo.svg barrier = berm
Ipf Wall.jpg
A berm is a level space, shelf, or raised barrier (usually made of compacted soil) separating two areas Edit this description in the wiki page. Edit this description in the data item.
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Group: barriers
Used on these elements
should not be used on nodesmay be used on waysmay be used on areas (and multipolygon relations)should not be used on relations (except multipolygon relations)
See also
Status: in use


information sign

The definition on this page is a proposal, not a description of current use of this tag.

A  Berm is a level space, shelf, or raised barrier (usually made of compacted soil) separating two areas. It can serve as a fortification line, a border/separation barrier, in industrial settings, or in many other applications.

This feature is more commonly mapped with man_made=dyke or man_made=embankment


There are several uses for berms, including as:

Military use

In medieval military engineering, a berm (or berme) was a level space between a parapet or defensive wall and an adjacent steep-walled ditch or moat.

During World War I trench warfare, the name was applied to a similar feature at the lip of a trench, which served mainly as an elbow-rest for riflemen.

In modern military engineering, a berm is an earthen, or sod, wall or parapet. Walls constructed in this manner are an effective obstacle to vehicles, including most armoured fighting vehicles, but are easily crossed by infantry. Because of the ease of construction, such walls can be made hundreds or thousands of kilometres long.

US Navy 030209-N-5319A-012 Seabees of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Seventy Four (NMCB-74) rush up a sand berm after taking fire from simulated opposing forces.jpg

A prominent example of such a berm is the 2,700 km (1,700 mi)  Moroccan Western Sahara Wall.

Berms are also commonly used to surround explosives, or ammunition, storage depots, so as to direct the force of any explosion harmlessly upwards, rather then outwards at ground-level.


Another similar use for them is to surround parked aircraft, both to provide protection to ground personnel in case of the aircraft exploding, & also to protect the aircraft from the explosion of nearby bombs.

Jackson Airfield - New Guinea.jpg

Erosion control

Berms are also used to control erosion and sedimentation by reducing the rate of surface run-off. The berms either reduce the velocity of the water, or direct water to areas that are not susceptible to erosion.

Cornell Tech td (2019-11-03) 071 - Future Phase 2 Mounds.jpg

Noise control

In modern highway construction, a berm is a noise barrier constructed of earth, often landscaped, running along a highway to protect adjacent land users from noise pollution.


Pollution control

Berms are also used as a method of environmental spill containment and liquid spill control. Bunding is the construction of a secondary impermeable barrier around and beneath storage or processing plant, sufficient to contain the plant's volume after a spill. This is often achieved on large sites by surrounding the plant with a berm.

Spill berms for secondary containment requirements.JPG

Shooting ranges

Berms are also used as protection around open-air shooting ranges, to prevent fired projectiles from leaving the range boundary. They can be used either as a backstop, behind the targets, or to separate groups of shooters.

Огневая подготовка. Казахстан, 2014 год. Полигон Алматинского Института Сухопутных Войск.JPG

How to map

Depending on the width of the berm, it can be mapped either as a simple line, drawn along the centreline of the wall; or as an area enclosing the outer boundaries of the wall.

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