As I understand it, FAF was changed to make trees visible from more distance when you zoom out
And it is possible to tell the difference between broken and unbroken tree groups, because unbroken tree groups are darker
But I got to thinking . . .
Why not make it so that unbroken tree groups are visible from a greater distance than broken trees
When you are zoomed all the way in, you see both (groups and broken trees)
When you are zoomed all the way out, you see neither
But for some "sweet spot" distance--maybe only 1 or 2 "clicks" of the mouse wheel--the broken trees disappear and the tree groups remain.
The biggest problem I anticipate is: enemy players could look at the map and have an even easier time of seeing when tree groups were being reclaimed or broken by units. That's already a problem but this would make the problem worse. It would be much easier to spot tree groups being broken.
The benefits: for people who know what tree groups are, it will be easier to try to scoop them, or avoid breaking them. And for people who DON'T know tree groups, this will make it easier for them to learn about the existence of tree groups. If you want someone to notice something, make it noticeable.
Just fix the problem more concretely by adding icons to the reclaim overlay to represent either an unbroken tree group or to show energy reclaim values. Can be given a threshold based on value or zoom level or whatever to eliminate potential performance problems. It will make it clear that tree groups are a mechanic of the game because now they have an icon, and everyone will notice they break sometimes and figure it out.
The intel issues already exist partially with mass reclaim. Being able to spot incoming labs due to tree group icons disappearing could be problematic. Technically, that information is already provided, it's just harder to see. I assume a player could edit their prop models to highlight this information already. Maybe it would be possible to not update the overlay in unscouted regions. I don't even see why unscouted tree groups have to break, considering enemy buildings that no longer exist still appear until they are scouted.
Yeah some way of easily telling tree groups would help - I just don't bother and use attack move as I don't have the time to try and figure out what's a tree group and what isn't, but would be nice to have better information on this so if I wanted to I could try and make better use of tree groups without needing to memorise the map in question. I'd probably prefer including the mass and energy values for tree groups (but not individual trees, to avoid too much information on the overlay), or some special icon/other visual indication (that happens when activating the reclaim overlay), over 'zoom out to a particular level and you can see tree groups but not individual trees', although the zoom out option would still be better than nothing.