What do green and dark green areas on the Pokémon GO in-game map represent?

The Pokémon GO in-game map was updated with the recent switch to OpenStreetMap (OSM), bringing a new set of roads, parks and other real world features to the game. We often get asked what do various map colors represent and is there any correlation between the map colors and nests / raids, etc.

The dark green areas on the Pokémon GO in-game maps stand for the following areas:

  • park
  • golf course

The only correlation we found is that both dark green areas often contain Pokémon nests.

How OpenStreetMap influences Pokémon GO spawns

In order to explain the role of OSM and how it affects Pokémon GO in more depth, let’s start with some basic OSM knowledge. Each point of interest inside OSM has a tag attached to it, describing what it is and what purpose it serves. These tags are used to render various icons and to provide deeper context on the map.

The Pokémon GO codebase includes references to the following OpenStreetMap tags, which are usually called “land use tags” in the OSM lingo:

BASIN. CANAL. CEMETERY. CINEMA. COLLEGE. COMMERCIAL. COMMON. DAM. DITCH. 
DOCK. DRAIN. FARM. FARMLAND. FARMYARD. FOOTWAY. FOREST. GARDEN. GLACIER. 
GOLF_COURSE. GRASS. HIGHWAY. HOSPITAL. HOTEL. INDUSTRIAL. LAKE. LAND. 
LIBRARY. MAJOR_ROAD. MEADOW. MINOR_ROAD. NATURE_RESERVE. OCEAN.PARK. 
PARKING. PATH. PEDESTRIAN. PITCH. PLACE_OF_WORSHIP. PLAYA. PLAYGROUND. 
QUARRY. RAILWAY. RECREATION_AREA. RESERVOIR. RESIDENTIAL. RETAIL. RIVER. 
RIVERBANK. RUNWAY. SCHOOL. SPORTS_CENTER. STADIUM. STREAM. TAXIWAY. THEATRE. 
UNIVERSITY. URBAN_AREA. WETLAND. WOOD. DEBUG_TILE_OUTLINE. 
DEBUG_TILE_SURFACE. OTHER. ANY.

It is believed that some of these tags are “nesting” tags and that nests can only occur in areas tagged with them:

  • golf course / park
  • farmland / farmyard
  • garden / grass / grassland / meadow
  • pitch / playground / scrub
  • heath / moor / green field
  • orchard / vineyard

This is yet to be investigated and confirmed or denied, but as of the time of this writing, there seems to be a solid correlation between nest placement and how the area is tagged on OSM.

Why are some locations missing from the map?

Areas tagged as military use are not rendered on the Pokémon GO map. This is intentional game design decision made to prevent players from exploring areas that are usually not accessible by general public.

We don’t expect this to change anytime soon.

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