The future of Michigan's forests
Forests provide many of the things we consider essential: clean air and water, habitat for wildlife, spaces for recreation and wood products for houses, paper and furniture.
But Michigan’s forests face challenges. Insects and disease, wildfire, climate change and human use all need to be managed to help forests continue to thrive for generations to come. The Forest Action Plan includes an in-depth analysis of forest trends and conditions, and strategies to manage, preserve and protect these forests.
2020 Forest Action Plan
The 2020 Forest Action Plan consists of two parts:
- An action plan
- A landscape assessment of all forest resources in Michigan (public and private).
Below, you will find information that describes the forest and its present condition and lays out forest management actions for the next 10 years.
The action plan is a strategy that guides management activities to address issues and trends. It lays out goals for Michigan’s forests and how we can, collectively, achieve those goals. It’s renewed every 10 years and it can be updated as needed to account for unforeseen events such as wildfires and invasive species such as the emerald ash borer, which has laid waste to Michigan’s ash trees. This strategy, then, provides the basis for action over the 10-year term of this plan. This 2020 Forest Action Plan will address some statewide aspects (community wildfire and forest health) as well as private forest land in the state.
The 2020 Forest Action Plan is now available.
Ecological Areas in Michigan
What are ecological areas?
Ecological areas are used to identify land and water areas at different scales that have similar functions and potential for management. Ecological areas are designed to have similar patterns in:
- Plant and animal species
- Water function
- Land features
- Rock formations
- Weather and climate
- Natural processes such as flooding, wind or fire
Ecological areas can be large, broad areas, such as several states, or localized areas as small as a few square miles. Ecological areas can be subdivided, and refined in classification, based on the characteristics listed above. The hierarchy of ecological units is defined as:
- Eco-regions: Domains, Divisions, Provinces
- Subregions: Sections, Sub-sections
- Landscapes: Land-type Associations
- Land Units: Land-types, Land-type Phases
The concept and use of ecological areas have been around for several decades. Much of the early work of defining ecological areas started in the 1980s and was further formalized in the late 1990s. The publication called the National Hierarchical Framework of Ecological Units offers more background and history of ecological area concepts.
Why use ecological areas?
To manage an ecosystem, we need to understand how it works. In order to help us reach that goal, the data used in this landscape assessment has been collected using three sampling systems, which are:
- Social information is collected for each of Michigan's 83 counties
- Soil and water data (and to some extent vegetation data) are collected at the Hydrologic Unit Level 12 (HUC 12) scale, which focuses on local tributary systems. See the Soil Resources and Water Resources chapters for more detail.
- Land data are collected based on ecological sections and sub-sections. Click on an area on the map to learn more about the selected sub-section.
Explore Michigan's eco-sub-sections. Click on an area to learn a bit more about each area.