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Hello all, I'd like to help with the land use wiki if that would be okay. One thing I have picked up is that there has been an inconsistency in spelling - the concept is 'land use' (two words) while the tag is 'landuse' one word. As this page is about the concept would it be okay to rename/move it to 'Land use'? Thanks, Nick NickJOB 22:30, 9 Mar 2019 (UTC)


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.

this sounds reasonable to me but the rendering is confusing: this whole area is a park in a residential area but it is rendered grey because the leisure=park is rendered below landuse=residential. shouldn't it be the other way around? --Shmias 15:39, 27 March 2012 (BST)

When to use landuse?

Should we plop down landuse polygons as if we were trying to create zoning map -- for example, place a big landuse=retail over a big set of commercial lots? Or should we reserve it for wholly owned or collectively operated areas -- for example, a shopping center gets landuse=retail but the two auto shops and a taco stand next to each other don't; an apartment complex gets landuse=residential but a subdivision or legacy neighborhood does not.

Which is the convention or what should it be? My thinking is the latter makes most sense. Since we can tag buildings as building=retail and also shop= and amenity= makes it obvious, putting a landuse=retail around a cluster of unrelated buildings is redundant and adds new information; where as in a shopping center it can identify the center grounds. - KTyler 23:39, 15 June 2012 (BST)

In practice "plop down landuse polygons as if we were trying to create zoning map" is a very common way people are putting landuse at the moment. E.g. landuse=retail around a big set of shops which are not related exept that they are next-to eachother. However people do also sometimes put a name tag and other such things on a landuse=retail, and use it to delineate a set of related shops e.g. in a retail park. So both approaches are used. The first approach, plopping down, is more prevalent in the data -- Harry Wood (talk) 12:27, 23 April 2015 (UTC)


A tag like landuse=mine_dump would be nice for - guess it - a dumping area. Maybe better landuse=dumping_area + dumping=mining_waste Ogmios 23:52, 14 September 2012 (BST)

Why the SimCity urban landuse classification system is bad

  1. Is a hotel commerical or residential? What about serviced apartments? What if the building offers apartments with varying tenancy lengths?
  2. Is a car sales yard that also operates as a garage commercial or industrial?
  3. Is a printers workshop commercial or industrial or retail? What if it's shop for people to do photocopying?
  4. Is a hairdresser commercial or retail?
  5. Is a movie theatre commercial or retail? A strip club? A brothel?
  6. How do you classify churches, museums, training institutions, social clubs?
  7. Most multi-story buildings are used for different purpose on the lower floors from the higher floors. Which takes precedence?

The area where I live is filled with all kinds of examples like the above, and there's no particular pattern. One building will have a restaurant in the bottom, with apartments above and the next will have a workshop in the bottom with offices above.

For most of the cities I've seen, a better classification scheme would look something like this:

  • Town centre -- for the mixed-use walkable area in the centre of a city, town or large suburb
  • Light commercial -- for areas that contain cheaper office space, maybe some industrial businesses and the kind of shops you'd usually drive to
  • Industrial estate -- for areas of almost exclusively industrial use, typically near railway lines and without footpaths
  • Residential -- for predominantly residential areas outside of the town centre
  • Various specialist categories like business parks, schools, universities, prisons, military

Ben Arnold (talk) 15:11, 6 March 2013 (UTC)

I received some helpful suggestions about how to navigate the current landuse classification scheme on the forums:

Ben Arnold (talk) 03:53, 7 March 2013 (UTC)

Suggestions to improve the usage of landuse (and related Problems)

All of these suggestions should be applied and explicitly mentioned within the documentation.

Suggestions not related to the problems below:

  • There is no page which explicitly explains (with examples) how to tag anything related to landuse=*.
  • Areas tagged as landuse should not share any node with ways tagged as highway=* by default. (Some contributors argue that sharing nodes eases the rework. In fact it complicates the tagging for highways - which is much mor important - and produces mistakes due to very small highway-ways)
  • Ways tagged as boundary=* should not share any node with areas tagged as landuse.
  • crop=* should be kept completely distinct from landuse. (This rule eliminates single fields of farmland tagged with landuse.)
why? TomChance (talk) 18:22, 20 June 2013 (UTC)
Maybe there are some insane mono-cultures like rice (see taginfo at the crop proposal), but my experience is that landuse areas are way bigger than the crop-areas and the crops are rapidly changing. So there is no reason to tell mappers that they should merge these ideas. This will only end up with millions of tiny areas of landuse=farmland. --Cracklinrain (talk) 22:21, 20 June 2013 (UTC)
Mapping individual fields is already widespread, but if crops are rotated I can see that it would be pointless to add the tag. TomChance (talk) 10:59, 21 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Landuse=field is rendered differently to Landuse=farmland on the main map, would it be reasonable to use the former for grass/pasture fields that are not meadows, and keep the latter for arable farmland? Drnoble (talk) 10:13, 22 June 2013 (UTC)
  • highway=residential implies that the landuse of its underlying area is landuse=residential. Update: Or any other residential-like-tags like retail, commercial, (industrial) etc
what does this mean? How would this change the way you map an area with some residential roads?
Right. This is not very helpful. It should state a principle (As it is elsewhere used at OSM). highway=residential is by definition a street in a residential context. Hence the landuse in this area is for example residential (which holds also for the area of the street). Streets outside of those areas - on the countryside - are tagged highway=unclassified. --Cracklinrain (talk) 22:21, 20 June 2013 (UTC)
Sorry, but what you you mean by "implies"? Do you mean that you think we shouldn't bothered to map the landuse where we already say the streets are residential? Or something else? TomChance (talk) 10:59, 21 June 2013 (UTC)
Yes. As you said. The area of the street is also of landuse=residential, if the street on the same area is highway=residential. This should be used equivalent. If shops are along the street you gonna use landuse=retail for the street, too - but the street will be residential, probably. The highway=residential/unclassified/track-tag has similar blurry definitions: It is defined by usage.
  • highway=track on landuse=farmland is the default scheme for tracks with a grass surface, since nobody is interested in micro-mapping, and should be tagged on the highway with surface=grass.
  • leisure=nature_reserve and trees do not imply natural=wood. (In Germany landuse=forest would be the right choice for 99% of all forest-polygons, but some users tend to map natural=wood. It might take 30 years in some cases, but for example at Germany it is really hard to find an untouched wood.)
I think that universities and schools, like gardens and parks, are assumed to imply a landuse TomChance (talk) 18:22, 20 June 2013 (UTC)
I have read somewhere that schools should get landuse=residential, but cannot find it. And actually this is also my intention for other land used for education - where universities fit much more to landuse=commercial because of their bureau character. But amenity itself should not be a key which describes landuse, because this is absolutely odd. Of course, you can deduce from the usage of an amenity=school areas, that it has kind of a different usage. But it does not really change the landuse. What about all the other amenity-tags like amenity=parking/hospital/place_of_worship/recycling etc? All of them induce a kind of "special usage" of the land, but you cannot call them landuse. And if so - how do you solve to give streets a landuse? It completely feels wrong to give the street in front of the school landuse=residential and the school not.--Cracklinrain (talk) 22:21, 20 June 2013 (UTC)
I've never come across the idea that schools should get that landuse tag added to the same object. Most landuse areas are just used to denote, very broadly, the main land use in an area, a way of indicating zones of residential, retail, commercial, industrial, agricultural and other uses. It's fine to have a school within a larger residential landuse area, or a place of worship in an area that is predominantly commercial (such as the many churches in the City of London). OpenStreetMap is never going to be a good place for a highly accurate source of land cover data. TomChance (talk) 10:59, 21 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Bigger areas tagged with power=* should officially tagges with landuse=industrial
  • landuse=retail should not be applicated to the major-rule. Very often buildings are used for both residential and retail purposes. The landuse covering of those areas should be retail since there are shops existing - not since the major part of a building is used for retail purposes.

Problems which cause inconsistency within leisure, landuse and natural:

do you mean landuse=military at the start of this sentence? I don't understand your point. TomChance (talk) 18:22, 20 June 2013 (UTC)
Right. Since you want to map a forest used by the military for training you are not able to do so, because otherwise you are using landuse/nature twice.--Cracklinrain (talk) 22:17, 20 June 2013 (UTC)
In this instance, you could either follow the most common OSM convention that "forest" means timber production and so tag it instead as natural=wood, or you could just create two objects sharing nodes each with the relevant landuse tag. Not ideal, but OpenStreetMap tagging is often not ideal! TomChance (talk) 10:59, 21 June 2013 (UTC)
Again, what is the problem here? TomChance (talk) 18:22, 20 June 2013 (UTC)
I am not only focussing here on the deprecation of landuse=grass, but also on the contradiction that leisure should not interepreted as having a landuse-function. Otherwise landuse only means landcover in many contexts. (leisure=nature_reserve + landuse=forest, leisure=pitch + landuse=recreation_ground, leisure=common + landuse=*) --Cracklinrain (talk) 22:21, 20 June 2013 (UTC)
I think you need to step back a bit and accept how OpenStreetMap tags developed. We started with quite a small set of tags that seemed appropriate to create a basic street map of the UK. This has grown over the years to accommodate other types of map, other geodata interests, other countries and other cultures. There are now lots of values for amenity= that would probably be better in leisure=, and lots of values for landuse= that would probably be better in surface=. There are differences we have never satisfactorily resolved, like wood/forest. There are widely varying approaches to eve very basic tags like landuse=residential, as you say. The world we live in is complicated, and representing that is made harder by cultural differences around the world, and the different reasons people contribute to the project. The completely free tagging process, and the absence of any formal process for coming to decisions that can be enforced, means we will always have a certain amount of mess and confusion around the edges. The tagging system isn't ever going to be a complete, logical description of the world. We just have to make a decent approximation with the tags we have. Constantly changing and deprecating tags to try and make it more logical only makes the project more complicated for contributors and data users. TomChance (talk) 10:59, 21 June 2013 (UTC)
This is a completely stupid tag, I would never use it! TomChance (talk) 18:22, 20 June 2013 (UTC)
This is why I am wondering about the gaps at streets. Some mappers intentionally draw the landuse=residential only on some private property and leave out the streets. But this means in fact that they are mapping indirectly "landuse=street" without using it.--Cracklinrain (talk) 22:17, 20 June 2013 (UTC)
  • Problems. I think the bulk of what you describe as problems are not significant. I am not sure, but I think I'm the only person who has tried to compare OSM landuse with other sources (slides of talk here (PDF)). Broadly speaking it was pretty easy to produce convincing landuse/landcover maps which were comparable with equivalent professionally produced maps. This would suggest that the basic landuse categories are not seriously broken. (The widespread use of {tag|landuse|grass} for both agricultural and amenity grassland was not an issue at the time). My methodology for handling highway/landuse/natural/amenity tags worked pretty well. By FAR AND AWAY the most difficult problem was handling OSM polygons, the tagging was utterly trivial in comparison. For additional information on this comparison see these blog posts : Simulating Urban Atlas, Exploration of Bad Polygons and Augmenting Residential Landuse. I also support everything TomChance says. There is much we can and need to do with landuse, mainly to find ways in which landuse classes can be sub-typed in ways which support particular use-cases without imposing a huge overhead on mappers not interested in them. SK53 (talk) 12:08, 21 June 2013 (UTC)

Please discuss all of these Suggestions and Problems. Some are important for every mapping on OpenStreetMap and can be applicated to natural=*, building=* (with exceptions for tunnel=building_passage and entrance=*), landcover=* etc. --Cracklinrain (talk) 11:18, 20 June 2013 (UTC)

Landuse vs Vegetation vs Landcover cleanup (Category:Features)

This is highly disputable topic, but inconsistency at wiki doesn't help anyone either. Misleading content doesn't help end users right now.

Right now we have inconsistent content at Landuse, Vegetation and Landcover: simply look at landuse=meadow. Meadow is even worse than landuse=wood/natural=forest, it is listed everywhere [1], [2] [3]. Maybe we we should use broader group that will contain all disputable features (aka *=wood)? Xxzme (talk) 04:14, 30 November 2014 (UTC)

There should really be no dispute, but I see there are several pages with wrong introductory texts. You can have all those keys on any single area: landuse=* describes "to what purpose people use this area", and at the same time natural=* describes what natural "class" dominates in that area; then some claim that natural features should be split in two, into natural=* and landcover=*. Obviously, users often consider that the "natural" in some area is implicit with some of the landuse values.
It's never "either/or", it's "this landuse and that natural". (Meadow is a difficult example, because the word meadow is used in natural language for both "the use" and for that sort of seminatural grassland description.) Alv (talk) 16:09, 30 November 2014 (UTC)

I think the set of wiki pages Landuse, Vegetation, Landcover are quite confusing. They are philosophically discussing the meaning of the words as distinct from how we ended up using the words within tag keys, and distinct from the "Key:" pages. Would it be better to move and merge it all onto one page with a title which is less easily confused with a "key:" page? This is actually what I created the "Land use and areas of natural land" wiki page for. That was supposed to be an all-encompassing discussion of how to deal with all these things. Maybe it needs a better name -- Harry Wood (talk) 12:37, 23 April 2015 (UTC)

If you use simply "Environment" then you don't have to use "and areas of natural land" in title. See also Environment, Built environment and Natural environment. I will be happy if pages at osm wiki will be point to Environment instead of confusing Landuse, Vegetation, Landcover. It is okay if Environment will be somewhat big and will point to Key:landuse, Key:natural, ... instead of duplicating definitions. Xxzme (talk) 13:27, 23 April 2015 (UTC)

Done in English namespace.

Landuse, Vegetation and Landcover now refer to sections in Environment. Xxzme (talk) 21:57, 23 April 2015 (UTC)

That was too quick. I was suggesting and discussing an idea to re-organise some pages, pages which people have spent some time structuring and working on. You have waded in, with a new page title "Environment" (which I don't like that much) and then leaving just 8 hours for people to reply or discuss with you, you have implemented the page moves and merges. -- Harry Wood (talk) 10:18, 24 April 2015 (UTC)
Not 8 hours. "merge" banners were since 2014-12. Merge was announced at 3 [4] [5] [6] forums and tagging list (can't find link to announcement ATM). Anyone who had interest in these pages may inspect history of the page to browse previous lists.
Previous work is still present at wiki, previous pages are not removed. if we find better place for philosophical views - then it is fine.
Again, you can inspect latest version of Landuse and copy parts of previous tables under Environment#Landuse.
IMO previous table redundant and duplicates Key:landuse and translated many times definitions from Template:Map_Features:landuse.
Other feature pages doesn't copy definition of every single tag/relation/key relevant to title: Buildings, Addresses, Public transport. Xxzme (talk) 13:28, 24 April 2015 (UTC)

I have restored the previous pages now - see also Talk:Environment#Unsuccessful_merge_of_Landuse.2C_Landcover_and_Vegetation. There is of course a lot of room for improvement on all three pages but this is surely better approached with some gradual improvements and possibly the development of a new page relating those - Environment in its current state does not really seem that helpful in this regard. --Imagico (talk) 10:09, 13 May 2015 (UTC)

Discussions elsewhere

Referring to discussions elsewhere is not a replacement for improving the wiki. Nonetheless, it can be quite useful considering the leeway editors have in regard to mapping. --Ceyockey (talk) 00:31, 10 March 2016 (UTC)

Humanuse rather than landuse?

landuse=aquaculture is presently being used on water features ... yes landuse at sea. I have also been told to use it for underground mines with an appropriate layer tag. So rather than being just for land and surface it also applied to other things. A much better way of thinking of this key is 'humanuse'; the use an area is put to by humans. Warin61 (talk) 22:22, 15 January 2017 (UTC)

Multiple landuse and leisure keys attached to the same area

I've been seeing a lot of areas lately tagged with multiple landuse or leisure key. Which causes the next landuse or leisure ley in the series to have an underscore with a number attached to it. At this point there are currently about two thousand of each just for _1. There could potentially be a lot more for _2 and subsequent numbers. A lot of them are associated with Pokémon Go mapping, but some seem to have been added by otherwise normal mappers. I assume that tagging an area with same key multiple times is incorrect and that there is no software out there that displays anything with a _number extension. Id like to know if there is a purpose for it though that I might not be aware of before I start deleting the keys in mass. Also, if it is wrong to stack landuse and leisure keys like that a note about not doing it should be added to the keys articles. Since it seems to be such a huge problem.

I've found a few in 'my' area. Remove all but 1. That has retail - bottom level of apartment block and landuse_1 =residential for the upper levels. That is entirely understandable from a mappers point of view. I have chosen, in that situation, to map the majority use - residential. But I have left this one alone. What do you think? Warin61 (talk) 22:53, 25 June 2018 (UTC)