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So I've just moved to the US to Northern Colorado which has the Roosevelt National Forest. It seems that all US National Forests are tagged with landuse=forest. This seems crazy to me for three reasons:

  1. Because this tag is incorrect. landuse=forest implies that the area inside is being active forested for timber.
  2. Because a lot of the land inside a US National Forest is not actually wood-land, and rather scrub or grassland.
  3. Because it renders badly. I've been doing a lot of work drawing in the land-cover around the Roosevelt National Forest and Rocky Mountain National Park, and it would not be possible to do this work if the whole area were covered with a massive blob of green inside the boundary.

From reading the wiki it seems that boundary=protected_area,protect_class=6 is much more appropriate. The only issue is that the boundary is not rendered.

Does anyone know the story is here? I would expect boundary=protected_area to render similarly to leasure=national_park.

asked 14 Aug '15, 00:27

joelholdsworth's gravatar image

accept rate: 0%

retagged 18 Aug '15, 15:27

Lightsider's gravatar image



I have noticed this in other parts of the U.S. as well. The Adirondack Forest Preserve in NY state is tagged that way, even the parts that are classified as wilderness areas where no logging or development of any kind is allowed. I think those tags came along with imports that while helpful often contain bad tags, illogical tags or superfluous points. Like the Tiger street data they're a mixed bag for sure.

(14 Aug '15, 01:08) AlaskaDave

On one of the tagging mail lists it was recently suggested that landcover=trees be used to show areas covered by woods/forest. I believe that landuse=forest simply says that it is being managed as a forest area and in the US that includes ranching, mining, recreation, logging, watershed, etc. So landuse and landcover would be orthogonal tagging, one for the management aspects the other for what is actually growing (or not growning) there.

I don't think any renderers honor landcover=trees but I like the concept.

(14 Aug '15, 01:31) n76

Completely agree. I did an image showing actual tree cover in a National Forest a couple of years back. Logical extension would be to map the admin HQ in DC as landuse=forest.

(14 Aug '15, 15:06) SK53 ♦

Forgot link to image of Prescott National Forest

(14 Aug '15, 15:08) SK53 ♦

For the National Forest boundary, boundary=protected_area is preferred over leisure=national_park--see If you read the text there, it suggests adding landuse=forest if it's pretty much all forest, but logically it should probably be separated--see below. Also note this discussion on talk-us in June 2015.

What is actually on the ground (forest, scrub, grassland, etc) is different and should be tagged as such. You can see a discussion of the multiple issues with forest tagging here: However, I'd still use it, as it is not going away anytime soon, and maybe add the landcover tag if you want to support that schema.

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answered 14 Aug '15, 14:27

neuhausr's gravatar image

accept rate: 21%

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question asked: 14 Aug '15, 00:27

question was seen: 3,950 times

last updated: 18 Aug '15, 15:27

NOTICE: is no longer in use from 1st March 2024. Please use the OpenStreetMap Community Forum