Working Forests for the 21st Century
Michigan has 19 million acres of forest land: private landowners hold 10.6 million acres, forestry industry holds 1.5 million acres, DNR manages 3.9 million acres of state forests, and USDA Forest Service manages 2.7 million acres of national forests.
These working forests produce products, sustain wildlife, support biodiversity, protect soil, air and water quality, and provide recreation opportunities for people. The working forest is important to rural community stability, a diversified state economy, and human health and welfare.
The working forest is part of Michigan’s natural resource heritage and a keystone for its future. Forest lands contribute a sustained flow of goods such as timber, wildlife habitat, nuts, minerals, oil, morels, medicinals, gas, and berries, environmental services such as filtering water, oxygen production, carbon sequestration, nutrient production, and recreation including hiking, hunting, camping, and riding. Tourism, forest, mineral and land dependent industries provide an economic base for rural communities. The diverse values and benefits from actively managed working forests strengthen community resiliency and state stability.
Strategic Fund investments in the working forest today will reap both economic and environmental benefits for decades.
In aggregate across all forest ownerships, net fiber growth is significantly higher than removals and losses. This ‘fiber surplus’ represents an opportunity to expand the forest-based sector, and improve rural community and forest industry stability if mechanisms can be instituted that increase and maintain fiber production from all forest ownerships and private non industrial lands (family forests) specifically.
The DNR is the largest single forest landowner in Michigan. State Forests are managed in the public trust for a broad range of natural resource. This direction is reinforced by state law including the Sustainable Forestry on State Forestlands that requires management for multiple biological, ecological, social and economic benefits. State forest land investments can directly impact management activities and support a variety of initiatives. These investments can provide a combination of short and long term environmental and economic benefits.