Landcover-Natural-Surface ... Confusing !

WIKIPEDIA : - Landcover is used to describe the physical material at the surface of the earth. … “Land cover” is distinct from “land use”, despite the two terms often being used interchangeably. Land use is a description of how people utilize the land and of socio-economic activity.

NOAA : - Land cover indicates the physical land type such as forest or open water whereas land use documents how people are using the land.

Why is then this proposition from already 2010-11-16 still not ‘approved’ (for rendering) ??

Also, when ‘Landcover’ is used to describe ALL the physical material at the surface of the earth, why is then there also a Surface key and a Natural key?? … makes things only complicated … :roll_eyes:

The way that you’ve worded your question sounds like you’re just trolling here. There are lots of good questions to be asked about “how did OSM tagging evolve to how it is now” and “how (if we can) do we change it in some way” but asking the question in such a way that it looks like you’re trying to stir up a heated argument won’t actually get us any closer to answering them.

What I’d suggest you do first is have a look through previous discussions about the use of different top-level tags, and then add your own answer to that question - say “it looks like people use the ‘surface’ tag because…” (also “natural”, “landuse” and “landcover”).

That will allow you to discuss it here in a non-confrontational way, because by that stage you’re actually familiar with the discussions that have gone before.

i am not ‘trolling’ , it was a simple question, and from what i can understand is , that people are free to use landcover=* … so, ‘the more the merrier’ i’d say, so that that ‘proposed landcover’ finally would be ‘approved’ . :wink:

Just my opinion: “Approved” simply means that a handful of people on the tagging list eventually stopped “bike shedding” a proposal and actually voted on it. I follow the tagging list but mostly find it a waste of time and a huge source of noise. For me the true approval of a form of tagging is first the number of mappers using it and second the support for it by editors and data consumers (renderers, etc.).

Also my opinion: Tags like “surface” are most used for things like roads and long preceded the landcover tag. I am unaware of wide spread use of “surface” outside of the highway tagging schema. OTOH I haven’t really looked for uses outside of highway tagging so I could be wrong on that. About the only surface values I use are “asphalt”, “concrete”, “paved” and “unpaved”.

Likewise, the “natural” tag preceded the landcover tag. If you are attempting to map vegetation then there is a mess of tags that have grown over time and the “landcover” tag was an attempt to simplify the situation. Is a group of trees growing “naturally” or planted by humans (“natural=wood”)? Is it being grown for wood products (“landuse=forest”)? Or is it/was it an orchard (“landuse=orchard”)? Don’t know? Can’t tell? Maybe just describing the area as having trees on it (“landcover=trees”) is a good idea.

Personally, I use the “landcover” tagging for vegetation. But in deference to many of the currently existing renderers I’ll also tag with “natural” and/or “landuse” if it makes sense (I much prefer to use “landuse=*” for things like “residential”, “industrial”, etc.)

It is a ‘vicious circle’ …many mappers map something that is ‘visible on the map’ (meaning rendered), and because ‘landcover=*’ is not (yet) rendered(=visible) on OSM, there are only a few people that map such things…
For example ; if you tag ‘landcover=trees’, it is not rendered(=visible), that is why there are several, simply because it is rendered, MIStagging it with ‘natural=wood’ … also ‘village green’ is widely MISused, should be ‘landcover=greenery’, but, because it is not rendered (yet), there may be not much ‘enthusiasm’ to do that, but in my opinion , it is maybe the best ‘solution’ to map a ‘landcover=greenery’(=mixture of plants) into for example an area of ‘landuse=residential’, because →

… that is why i recommend at those, which map trees/forest/wood, to also add a tag landcover=trees

That is non-functional mapping.

All primary keys describe a function, roughly:

  • landuse describes the use by humans
  • natural describes the use by nature
  • amenity describes places that make something possible
  • leisure describes places to have fun or to relax
  • tourism is for travellers
  • man-made is for structures and equipment
  • building is for concealed space
  • highway is for traffic flows
  • waterway is for water flows
    and so on…

If we draw a line than we want to describe whether it depicts a road or something else. Then we want to describe, for example, the importance of the transport route. After that come the tags that describe its physical features.

Tagging with landcover is the opposite way, we would start with the physical features and probably never reach its function.

Nope, all the tags do is describe what an object is. The “primary keys” are nothing more than a convenient categorization of the most commonly-used tags, not descriptions of some kind of function. “Natural describes the use by nature” doesn’t make sense. If I tag an object with natural=water, that doesn’t say that “nature uses this area as water”. All it says is that there’s a body of water there. Likewise, building=yes says “this object is a building”, highway=motorway says “there’s a high-speed road here”, and leisure=park says “this area is a park”. If one tags an area with landcover=trees, they’re simply saying “here be trees”. If one wants to add a known functional value to that area of trees, like if it’s managed, then additional tags like managed=yes can be used to extend the object’s definition.

So it is pure coincidental that, lets say, the land uses are grouped under landuse.

And water isn’t natural? Then were is it made?

Well, nature uses those areas for living, growing and breathing. Never noticed?

But only concealed buildings for human activities. Coincidence?

And we use parks for…

There is really a reason why there are words like “garden,” “park,” “meadow” or “tundra” and not just “grass.”

I see no problem with tagging an area with just landcover, in case you do not know for which purpose it is used by nature or humans.
Another mapper can later always add that information. So I do not understand why you write “non-functional” mapping.

This is the same as mapping highway=road from aerial imagery when you do not know the importance of the street. There is a street and another mapper can later add more detail.

I’m with Alester, the top level tags are just classifications. Not every amenity is really an amenity (prison and bank), not everything under natural is untouched by humans (tree row), not everything that is made by humans is under man-made (otherwise most objects just have a man-made tag), not every landuse describes how the area is used by humans (grass ? forest ?) Why is a restaurant not under tourism ? etc.

Do not try to get too much information from the “top”-level tag. BTW, what is a top-level tag ? Why is building a top-level tag ? shouldn’t it be man_made=building; building=… ?

Exactly. They’re just tags. They might offer a bit of guidance as to roughly want sort of thing the thing being tagged is, but at the end of the day it’s just a tag - it doesn’t matter if OSM had chosen the tag “landcover”, “landuse” “1234” or “fintlewoodlewix”, as long as OSMers understand that when they tag something as “foo”=“bar” that they’re describing the same thing.

Landcover=(coastal) dunes should also be a good ‘replacement’ for all those dunes on beaches, because natural=dune(s) is not even rendered, and because it is not rendered, people ‘fill in’ those dune-area’s (usually) with natural=heath, and that is something TOTALLY DIFFERENT than dunes … :roll_eyes:
WHEN is that landcover=* going to be rendered ??? :roll_eyes: :roll_eyes:


This seems like something that should be discussed first before redefining the tag. The article for natural=dune (note: singular) makes it clear that the tag is used only for single dunes, not areas of multiple dunes.

The Tag:natural=scrub is also ‘singular’ and still in use and approved for rendering. … Also, the word scrub is rather more used as a verb or slang language than shrub … so,… the Tag:natural=scrub should ‘actually’ better be ; Tag:natural=shrub(s):wink:

I’m not so concerned about the actual word that’s used. I’m more concerned about changing the meaning of the tag. natural=scrub says:

…so there’s no problem with using it to tag an area of bushes, even though the word used is singular.

On the other hand, natural=dune says:

In this case, recommending that it be used for tagging an area covered with dunes would be changing the meaning of the tag. Such a change should be discussed with a wider audience.

I agree with you about that, because sometimes those wiki’s are contradicting/confusing →

and →

a dune covered area is in my opinion not only sand, but sand and vegetation … mostly dunegrass and dune vegetation

I’m a native English speaker and I use scrub as a term for this all the time: it’s pretty much the state of art term used by professional ecologists in Britain. Scrub as a verb largely refers to cleaning things vigorously. Shrubs are types of plants (microphanerophytes) not a habitat type, see Shrubland on Wikipedia for this and other similar words.

Rather more importantly, natural=scrub has been used on OSM for nigh on 15 years and therefore has a well-established semantic of its own irrespective of its original relationship to the normal meaning in English.

I made another landcover=dunes and deleted my ‘contribution’ of natural=dune(s), because dunes can also be ‘man made’ , so the key:natural, which Jeisenbe is ‘forcing’ to keep → also here,…since when can 1 person decide if a tag is deprecated ??against all ‘logic’ , can actually be replaced by landcover=*

Land form not land cover.
Dunes are not land covers but land forms, like hills and valleys, they have a shape.

Natural not just ‘natural’ but also ‘unnatural’.
The key natural is, in OSM, used with both natural things and unnatural things. If, like me, you object to this misuse of the English language then dual tag. For things that are land covers use the key landcover for things that are landforms use the key landform. Unfortunately you may have to use the key natural for rendering.

If something needs to be rendered now then select something that is already being rendered that it a fair fit. For ‘sand dunes’ I would use natural=sand (it is a landcover tag) but I would also tag it landform=dune for accuracy and probably landcover=sand for complete accuracy!

Up the rebels!:slight_smile:

so… better make also a key landform then ? :wink:
also, how to make from this a Tag:landform=dune(s) ? so i can delete my ‘contribution’

Edit : i made those, but (as usual) they labeled it for deletion, so my ‘contribution’ of Tag:landform=dune(s) shall probably also not be accepted … well … so long then with that ‘natural’, that actually NO natural is … and by the way ; i am curious about those ricefields-plateaus (which are a landform)from the picture beneath here, how to tag them ?