Skip to main content

Forest management strategies

A forester in an orange hat takes a core sample of a tree with a tool

Forest management strategies

How and why we manage forests

We care for the state forest by helping new trees to grow, improving wildlife habitat, protecting the forest from wildfires, forest pests and diseases and ensuring our forests are around for future generations to enjoy.

We do this by harvesting trees, planting trees, conducting prescribed burns and more. Methods are chosen based on what foresters want to accomplish in a particular area. We might clear cut several acres of aspen to provide a fresh food source for grouse, or we might burn an area to get rid of troublesome invasive species. It's all part of a forest management plan, carefully laid out and intended to help Michigan's forests thrive.

Share your thoughts on forest management using our forest input webpage.

View a map of state forest management activities.

Forest management plans

Collaborative Statewide Forest Action Plan

This plan sets shared goals for all of Michigan's forests and  actions to achieve them.

DNR state forest plan

This plan sets overall goals for DNR-managed state forest lands.

DNR regional forest plans

These regional plans provide guidance for DNR land managers at a local level.  

DNR Forest Resources Division strategic plan

5-year plan to support forests that provide social, economic and ecological benefits.

Michigan Ecological Reference Areas storymap in desktop, tablet and mobile view

Special management areas

Designated natural areas, including places on state forest lands called Ecological Reference Areas, are places with unique natural features or ecosystems.

These "best of the best" locations include muskeg peatlands in the eastern Upper Peninsula, fens in northern Lower Michigan and limestone bedrock glades on Drummond Island. Special areas like this are generally not harvested for timber, may have motorized access restrictions and are monitored to support the rare species and habitats within.

Open interactive map to view natural areas

Forest management practices

A mat is laid down for machinery to travel over, protecting the landscape

Forestry Best Management Practices

Best management practices are voluntary guidelines that help foresters, loggers and others who work in the woods protect soil and water quality.

These include activities such as cleaning up fuel spills, minimizing ruts left by heavy equipment and installing properly sized culverts and bridges that allow fish to swim through.

Anyone involved in growing, managing or harvesting trees should follow these guidelines.

For a printed version, contact Margaret Spagnuolo, 517-284-5903.

Download the Forestry Best Management Practices manual
A grassy, open seed orchard with small conifer trees

Generally Accepted Forest Management Practices

The Right to Forest Act of 2002 ensures that forestry activities are protected from nuisance complaints when management actions follow a set of Generally Accepted Forest Management Practices.

A forest is defined as any tract of land at least 10% stocked with trees. Forestry activities include harvesting, planting, pest control, fertilization and wildlife management consistent with sustainable forestry principles.

These practices are part of the Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program, a sustainability verification of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Read the Generally Accepted Forest Management Practices


Forest health

Monitoring and responding to forest pests, diseases and invasive species.

The Good Neighbor Authority

Partnerships between state and federal forest managers.

Forest to Mi Faucet

Community partnerships for healthy forests and clean water.