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Public-images-osm logo.svg boundary = forestry_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 areasshould not be used on relations
Useful combination
See also
Status: deprecatedPage for proposal

exclamation mark

This feature has been labeled as deprecated. The recommended replacement is: boundary=forest_compartment.
The reason is documented in Deprecated features. You are still free to continue to use or interpret this tag as you see fit since OpenStreetMap does not have “banned features”.
Under no circumstances should you (semi-)automatically change “deprecated” tags to something else in the database on a large scale without conforming to the Automated Edits code of conduct. Any such change will be reverted.

The tag boundary=forestry_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 approved replacement tag boundary=forest_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, tagged boundary=forestry_compartment.

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 is shown at each junction bounding the compartment, and regularly along its borders.


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

Related tags

The close synonym boundary=forest_compartment is used about as often, and has been approved as the replacement tagging following the deprecation of boundary=forest_compartment

A small number of cases exist of boundary=forest used for compartments; these are to be re-tagged as boundary=forest_compartment, as boundary=forest has been approved for another use.

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