Tagging dead forest - Harz


I recently visited the Harz, a large forested highland area in Northern Germany.

Or so I thought.

As it turns out, the drought over the last five years or so gave the (mainly) spruce forest a hard fight, as the spruce is a shallow rooted tree. This weakened it enough to give over to a certain pest called the (spruce) bark beetle. The result looks like this. It looks as if a forest fire raged:

This is well visible on aerial imagery. Unfortunately, there is no date attached to the different layers in JOSM but it looks like the Esri one is the most current and the Bing one is the oldest. All which is brown is dead forest like shown above:


Tagging dead forest as dead forest somehow or maybe not even natural=wood anymore but something else has obvious applications like

  • being able to visualize the extent of the catastrophe
  • to know which hiking routes to avoid (dead forest doesn’t give shade)


So, how to tag that?

I could not find any discussion on the wiki nor any tag that seemed to be in use on taginfo. Maybe someone knows if this has been discussed elsewhere already?

A few things to consider after thinking about it a bit:

  1. Dead forest is dead forest. The cause that led to its demise (be it fire, pest, drought or a combination thereof) is secondary. After all, we map what is, not (primarily) why it is.

  2. It may be obvious to treat this with lifecycle tagging (destroyed:natural=wood) but this would only express that there used to be a forest and that it has been destroyed, not what is there now. The dead forest, however, is still standing. There is nothing else in its place, as would maybe be the case if the area was logged (grassland / scrubland)

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Ce sujet de discussion accompagne la publication sur https://community.openstreetmap.org/t/tagging-dead-forest-harz/1859