Facts and Information About Michigan's Forests

  • About half of Michigan is covered by vigorous, healthy forests.

  • 56% of Michigan's forests are privately owned.

  • 84% of the UP is forested and forestry is the #1 industry.

  • Michigan has the 5th largest forest of any state.

  • The amount of forest land in Michigan has increased every year for the last 50 years.

  • Michigan's forests support 200,000 jobs and generate $12 billion each year.

Michigan has over 11.5 billion trees and we add more every year.

Each year for every 1000 trees:

  •    39 new trees grow
  •    8 trees die naturally  A flying pie
  •    12 trees are harvested        

.... so we gain 19 new trees for every 1,000 trees in the forest.

from: www.maes.msu.edu



By the Michigan Society of American Foresters


Michigan's temperate forests teem with plant and animal life, provide outdoor recreation opportunities-

Protect and enhance air and water quality, and support 200,000 jobs. They contribute over $12 billion to Michigan’s economy each year. Michigan forests touch our lives each day.

Forested ecosystems, include living and nonliving components combined into a much broader landscape diversity mix. The mix of biotic components helps define biodiversity. In the case of forests, the kinds of vegetation present determines the kinds of mammals, birds, amphibians, etc. which can survive. Michigan's statewide forest inventory identified over 75 different tree species and approximately 90 species of woody shrubs.


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The forest also contains other living components which are part of its overall health. These include lichens, mosses, dead and/or downed woody vegetation, and other herbaceous plants. The relationship of these many components to one another creates different but important habitat. Examples are the edge between various forests or land uses and the presence of aquatic systems.

Michigan's forests continue to mature and regenerate. This process alters the forest's structure continually. One measure of this process is reflected in the statewide forest inventory. Since 1980, Michigan's forest acreage of large diameter trees (roughly, greater than 10 inches) increased 55%; pole timber (5-10 inch trees) acreage decreased 27%; and seedling/saplings (under 5 inches) remained relatively constant. The trend towards maturity in Michigan's forests provides a variety of management opportunities, such as managing for old growth attributes, harvesting mature trees, improving structural diversity, or regenerating young forests.

Forests dominate Michigan's landscape. They currently cover 53% of the total land area, representing 19.3 million acres. Nearly all of these forest lands meet minimum tree growth productivity standards (20 cubic feet per acre per year) to produce commercial timber crops, qualifying as timberland. Originally intended for industrial wood production, this classification provides a good measure of the forest's potential to produce a wide array of goods and services. Timberland area has increased 6%, to 18.6 million acres, since 1980. This is the first increase since European settlement.

Certain tree species in the forest grow near one another due to similar soil, moisture, climate and terrain. These tree species communities are called forest types. Hardwoods (broadleaf deciduous tree species like oak, aspen and maple) are the most common species in the forest. They account for 75% of the timberland forest types. Softwoods (tree species like pine, spruce and cedar) account for the remaining 25%. The two largest forest types in Michigan are maple-beech-birch (commonly referred to as northern hardwoods) at 7.1 million acres and the aspen forest type at 3.2 million acres

Private owners control 65% of the state's timberland. Non-industrial private (farmers, individuals, hunt clubs, etc.) ownership is 57% of the total. They include 312,000 individuals with an average ownership of 27.6 acres. Forest industry ownership is 8% of the state total. These collective private holdings have objectives ranging from economic to purely aesthetic. These owners generally have a strong land ethic and respond to opportunities to improve their property's values.

Public ownership accounts for the remaining 35% of the total timberland base. National forests in Michigan include the Ottawa, Hiawatha, and the Huron-Manistee, which represent 14% of the total. The state forests represent 20% of the total. A small fraction of public ownership is held by counties, municipalities and various federal agencies. Principal ownership objectives of public lands include community stability through support for timber and recreational industries and the more naturalistic values associated with wilderness settings.

Although the total area of forest land in Michigan has changed little since the first forest survey was completed in 1935, the volume of wood in the forest has risen nearly 160 percent. The 1935 survey estimated that Michigan had 10.4 billion cubic feet of growing stock (trees 5 inches and larger). By 1993, the inventory had increased to 26.6 billion cubic feet. Between 1980 and 1993, the inventory increased over 6.9 billion cubic feet, a 35% increase.

Michigan's forests are currently growing over two and one-half times more wood than is being harvested each year. Current annual growing stock net growth is 830 million cubic feet; current harvests are 322 million cubic feet; current mortality (due to old age, fire, wind, insects, and disease) is 202 million cubic feet; and current consumption of wood products (paper, furniture, etc.) by Michigan's residents is 800 million cubic feet per year.

Michigan's surplus growing stock (annual net growth less harvests) is the largest in the nation. This puts Michigan ahead of Washington, Idaho, Pennsylvania and other well known wood-producing states.

Michigan's forests have the potential to increase annual wood growth by 50%, to 1.2 billion cubic feet. This would require more direct forest management in a timely manner to assure fully stocked acres. Additional increases in wood growth can occur through the use of more intensive forest management techniques such as thinning and planting of genetically improved trees.

 The Michigan Society of American Foresters



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