WikiProject Belgium/Landuse

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This page discusses land-use/land-cover mapping issues and best practices in Belgium. Land-use refers to the utilisation of the land for human activities, while land-cover refers to the actual cover of the soil. Land-use and land-cover classes does not necessarily overlap: an area covered by grass (landcover=grass) can have different utilisations: agricultural (landuse=meadow), leisure (leisure=park, garden), sport (leisure=golf_course, pitch, ...), etc.

How are Belgian landscapes mapped in OpenStreetMap? What are the best practices for land-use mapping adapted to Belgium (and similar regions)? What tags should we use? How to digitalize the land-use/land-cover features?


Here we list the questions that are often raised by the community of OSM mappers about land-use/land-cover mapping. It would be nice if we can provide examples of how features are mapped (by link to some OSM area or objects), aerial imagery and on-ground pictures.

Tagging issues

  • landuse=forest vs natural=wood
  • landuse=meadow vs landuse=farmland
  • The landcover=* key: should it be used?
  • How to map highways areas?
    • landuse=highway vs area:highway vs ...
  • How to map green areas in urban environment? Such as grass along public building, car parks, grass inside roundabout, etc.
  • ...

Geometry / mapping issues

  • Should land-use nodes be shared with nodes of adjacent (linear) features? In other words, do we let space between land-use polygons and adjacents roads/waterways?
  • In what extent should land-use features overlap?
  • Should the landuse/landcover features be continuous (in other words, do the polygons need to form a continuous layer, without gaps)?
  • How should we parcelize land-use, as for instance agricultural parcels?
  • ...

Use cases

What are actual and potential use cases of land-use/land-cover information from OSM in Belgium? What does end-users need? Answering these questions should allow the OSM community to improve the ways of mapping. Please list some possible use-cases and as well as real examples.

  • Plain cartography: land-use information is obviously useful for rendering, either in the default OSM Mapnik style and for others styles.
  • OSM land-use features are known to be used to help producing land cover maps in the lifewatch project. See the map portal of lifewatch here. There was a talk about that at 2017 ("Making of the Lifewatch open data for biodiversity: synergies with OSM and FOSS4G", Julien Radoux). Note that Lifewatch data is open and can be used in OSM.
  • OSM land-use/land-cover information could be use in hydrological modelling.

Potential data sources

The license of these data sources was not verified. Please have a look at the legal aspects before considering importing/use this data!