Landuse/landcover in Patagonia

Apologies for posting in English.

I have just been doing edits from my journeys through Patagonia after State of the Map, and am somewhat dismayed by the presence of large polygons which bear little or no resemblance to what can be seen on the ground. I am aware that some of these are discussed in other threads, but for convenience I have noted my major issues with what is currently mapped here.

There seem to be three major classes of polygons which at best have incorrect tagging on them:

  • **Woods. **Major river valleys tagged as natural=wood. A single polygon encompasses some 100s of kilometers of the basin of the Río Coig and another the Rio Belgrano. I imagine these were created from satellite imagery in the mistaken belief that greener areas are woods. There is also another amorphous polygon of natural=wood around Sarmiento, Chubut, and probably others which I have not come across. I am in the process of adding Mapillary sequences between El Calafate and Rio Gallegos which show clearly that there are no woods in this area. These polygons are anyway far too large for sensible mapping and create problems with on-line editors.

  • Estancias in Chubut. This has already been discussed at length. My view is that they should not be tagged as landuse=farmland. The use of the tag is now largely restricted to arable crops, with other tags for intensively managed pasture (such as landuse=grassland) and for grass crops (hay /silage - landuse=meadow). Extensive areas of natural landscape used for pasturing animals should use natural tags (steppe or scrub), which is exactly what we do in the UK for areas where sheep are farmed in the uplands. It is interesting to note that the one area in Chubut noted for intensive agriculture, the irrigated area around Gaiman, is, ironically not mapped as farmland. Secondly these polygons are not very accurate, have overlaps and underlaps, so their quality is also low. This can be seen on Peninsula Valdes where I have mapped cattle grids on the Ruta Provincial which ususally correspond with boundaries of Estancias. Thirdly, I think it would be more useful to map the central habitation of Estancias using either place=locality or place=farm. Fourthly, some kind of tagging scheme needs to be agreed for mapping the full extents of Estancias. I noted with interest a map in the museum on Peninsula Valdes dating from the 1940s showing the Estancias in the area, and also saw one showing all the Estancias in Argentine Tierra del Fuego. Lastly, there is, of course, the licence issue.

  • Industrial polygons for Oil exploration areas. Large polygons delineating oil exploration areas. These make use of the main OSM site very hard for cities such as Comodora Rividavia which sit inside these areas. Once again, I feel that these have been mis-tagged, and if they are to be mapped then a discussion needs to take place as how they should be tagged. They clearly should not be tagged as landuse=industrial, which should be reserved for observable oil & gas extraction and transportation facilities (many of which can be readily found on aerial images). (One side note I see a lot of oil pumps have been incorrectly mapped with power:generator tags, they should be man_made=pumping_rig or similar - I would actually question whether this data belongs on OSM at all: is it verifiable on the ground?

Taken together these degrade the quality of mapping in Patagonia. This is a real shame, when one looks at places like Caleta Olivia (, which have been mapped extremely well by local people (or perhaps one local enthusiast). In fact, every populated place I visited in Patagonia is mapped to a high degree of usefulness on OSM.

For me, one of the most important things I learnt at SotM14, was how useful OpenStreetMap can be for all sorts of organisations in the “Campo” throughout Latin America. The ability to build up really useful information in sparsely populated areas will be a significant factor in extending the existing community. People need a “Wow” factor, which comes from things like " even the emergency telephones and road distance markers are mapped in the middle of nowhere", not “it’s useless, you cant trust the data because someone thinks there are woods on the Patagonian steppes”.

There is still lots and lots of stuff which can be used to add information from aerial photos, outside the cities, towns and villages. Notably many major rivers are still missing, but there’s a lot of oil/gas infrastructure, power lines, and even fences, all of which help build up detail in a useful way.

So in conclusion: many of these polygons should be removed for multiple reasons, those that are retained need to re-tagged to reflect the more common usage for these tags.

Let’s make sure we keep the same standards for mapping in the countryside as in the cities.

Jerry (SK53)

Short anwser to the main issue is: Yeah, we know it, someones agree with you (others not).

We discusse about it here before here: “Estancias Chubut” import

And if you are in the ground, and something is wrong in the OSM data, just erase it.

Im glad tha you can stay a little bit longer to see more of Argentina than Buenos Aires City.


Respuesta corta al tema principal: Si , lo sabemos, unos estan de acuerdo contigo (otros no)

Discutimos al respecto en el hilo ““Estancias Chubut” import”

Y si estas en el lugar y algo esta mal de la info de OSM, borralo.


Thanks, it’s very important to have the opinion of mappers from other countries where this questions have been issued by more people.

I agree with all that you say. Rodarte! is the local enthusiast in Caleta Olivia, great job.

If it has to be this tag or another it’s not as important as what you say about usefulness, that we should keep focus on quality of what we load on OSM rather than cover big “blank” areas with poor data just to show something.

Gracias, es muy importante la opinión de mapeadores de otros países donde estas cuestiones ya habrán sido tratadas por más personas.

Comparto todo lo que decís. Rodarte! es el entusiasta local de Caleta Olivia, gran trabajo.

Si es este tago o el otro no es tan importante como lo que decís de la utilidad de los datos, es preferible enfocarnos en la calidad de lo que cargamos antes que llenar áreas “en blanco” con datos de baja calidad solo para poder mostrar algo.

Uno de los problemas es que los usuarios activos de la patagonia son pocos, entonces nadie corrige esos errores, tal vez habría que armar un mapping party por esa zona y así corregir y enseñar a los demás.

I think we are 4 700 thousand kilometers, would be a good weekend such as a mapping party to mend everything that has gone wrong (myself included)

PD: SK53 thank you very much for valuing my work is something I try to expand in northern and southern santa cruz chubut.

Somos 4 creo en 700 mil kilómetros, lo bueno sería un finde tal como un mapping party para poder remendar todo lo que se ha hecho mal (me incluyo).

PD: SK53 muchas gracias por valorar mi trabajo, es algo que intento ampliar en zona norte de santa cruz y sur del chubut.

Lo de las estancias ya se esta trató en el hilo mencionado.

Falta evaluar si tambien hay que revertir la importacion masiva