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Public-images-osm logo.svg boundary = forest_compartment
A marked subdivision of an area of forestry landuse, which is used for planning, management & navigation Edit this description in the wiki page. Edit this description in the data item.
Group: Boundaries
Used on these elements
may be used on nodesshould not be used on waysmay be used on areasmay be used on relations
Useful combination
See also
Status: in use


The tag boundary=forest_compartment has been used for areas of land subdivided by the land operator for forestry management: these subdivisions are usually termed compartments. Also see the identical tag boundary=forestry_compartment

These units are marked on the ground by boundary markers (attached to trees or as posts or boundary stones) showing a unique identifier (ref=*) for the compartment. These markers are useful navigation aids.

How to map

Usually mapped as a area with closed way to represent the outline of the compartment, or sometimes as a multipolygon area.

It is also necessary to map the actual areas covered by trees with landuse=forest and other areas of vegetation with appropriate tags such as natural=scrub, natural=wetland etc.

There will usually be tracks highway=track), paths, water features, and cutlines (man_made=cutline along the boundary with an occasional marker=* post, stone or plate. More rarely they might be fences (barrier=fence).

Add the identifier as ref=* and add a name if relevant. Some very old traditional compartments may only have a name.

It is not always possible to delineate the boundaries of the compartment on an initial survey. It may be possible to indivually map the surveyed boundary markers (marker=*) and assign the ref=* to these nodes. Rarely the center of the compartment is mapped as a node in this case.

Usually it will become apparent fairly quickly what the overall scheme for compartmentalisation of any given forest might be. For instance historic forests in the former Russian Empire often have a rectangular grid based on 1 verst.

FAO Definition

Taken from Guidelines for the management of tropical forests "A compartment is a permanent, geographically recognisable unit of forest land forming the basis for planning, prescription, implementation, monitoring and recording of forest operations. ... areas of forest that are to be managed for different purposes, or have clearly different functions or values, should be placed in separately defined compartments. Wherever practicable:

  • "Boundaries should be geographically recognisable, such as rivers, streams, ridges and gullies. Permanent roads and trails may also be used.
  • "Compartments should as far as possible comprise uniform forest types and be physically recognisable on the ground.
  • "Numbering should be sequential, usually commencing at a forest headquarters.
  • "A practical size range for many management situations is between 100 and 500 hectares."


Their size may depend on the nature of the forest products, but they will always reflect a size which represents a reasonable unit or work (selective felling, clearing brush wood, coppicing etc). From compartments already mapped on OSM a maximum size appears to be 4 sq. km, with traditional mediaeval coppice panels in England being only a few hectares.


Large forests, particularly those also used for leisure, tend to divided into compartments based around a regular network of rides and forest roads. In the [W] Forêt de Fontainebleau the network consists of rides radiating from certain points in the forest (carrousels). The compartment number if shown at each junction bounding the compartment.


Białowieża Forest Compartment Marker.jpg

Polish forest data imported from often has an identifier associated with each forest compartment of the form: "02-36-1-09-20 - -" (see way 228402932. Only the latter two groups are used for marking compartments on the ground. The complete form is tagged with adr_les=*. The leading elements represent higher level units in the national forest administration.

Example: 600A/600B, a marker post in [W] Białowieża Forest near [W] Topiło represents two square compartments half a [W] verst on each side.


  • КЛ - колхозный лес : a collective farm forest
  • СЛ - совхозный лес : state farm forest
  • ГЛ - государственный лес : state forest
  • ПП - пробная площадь: test area
  • Line 1: 30-14,15,16 - 30 in the quarter, Mark 14,15,16
  • Line 2: KM 11 - KM "Cleaning cluttering" 11- 2011
  • Line 3: 2-10,2 - plot №2, an area of ​​10.2 hectares.

OST 56-44-80

  • строка 1: 30-14,15,16 - в квартале 30, выделах 14,15,16
  • строка 2: УЗ-11 - УЗ "Уборка Захламленности", 11- 2011 год
  • строка 3: 2-10,2 - делянка №2, площадь 10,2 га.

ОСТ 56-44-80


See related discussion on the CartoCSS github project.

Related tags

The close synonym boundary=forestry_compartment is used slightly less often than the tag documented here.

A small number of cases exist of boundary=forest used for compartments.

For the actual markers the tag marker=* is approved (e.g. marker=post or marker=stone). In the past man_made=boundary_marker, historic=boundary_stone and signpost=forest_compartment have also been used.

A plain ref=* has been used in some places, notably Poland, and often with imported data.

See also

Other discussions

On the russian language forum, google translation to english here