First let me explain my primary interest is in the areas of countryside (in the UK) for walking and hiking. So the features I want to work with most are footpaths, bridleways, tracks (unsurfaced roads for vehicular access). In the UK we also have “green lanes” favoured by off-road motorcyclists. In common with all countries we have natural land features (cliffs, rivers, streams, lakes, heaths, woods, springs) as well as man_made features such as reservoirs, parks (urban parks as opposed to designated “National Parks”), tracks, walls (drystone walls for example), fences, farms, barns and so on.
It could be argued that our moors are anything other than “natural” because they are managed - heather burning and drainage for instance. Our woods are seldom “natural” too - we are very few ancient forests (in Canada it’s probably the other way round)
Landuse is a possible way of defining an area: landuse=forest seems a good one because it doesn’t differentiate between natural and man-made. But land use is never so simple. We have commons - areas designated common land - that is definately “usage” (to be used by the public) but says nothing about land cover (heathland, grassland, shrub, wood). Overlaying that we have “Open Access” land - which may or may not coincide with any other land designation. Then we have “Nature Reserve” - which may or may not coincide with the other areas and finally, but not exhaustively, we have “National Parks”, “Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty”, “Areas os Special Scientific Interest” and so on.
This sounds really messy - and it is. But the planet is messy, nothing quite adds up and there are always exceptions - that’s why the planet is interesting. But it is a headache for cartographers. And OSM doesn’t (yet) seem to have the facility to designate boundaries with shading that will overlay existing features and existing areas without applying a solid polygonal fill.
There is a cycle way initiative (gravitystorm) - and I love the fact that the contours are showing. An overlay for the outdoor walker would be great too - showing areas where you can wander freely, areas of wood (or is that forest?) where you won’t see anything except, er trees, and areas of heathland where you might expect to have open views and vistas. All of this is useful to those who want to enjoy the countryside, plan a walk and so on.
Two things: is such a hiking / walking map possible taking the features from baseline OSM data? Second, what’s the mechanism for people with similar interests to get together to work up proposals for classification? I’d sure like to contribute to the latter in respect of everything I’ve said earlier.
Other than that - OSM’s a truly great project.