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If you have questions, contact:
Kristen Tomaszewski
608-266-5202

Statewide Forest Action Plan Part 1: AssessmentCriterion 7: Legal and institutional framework for forest conservation and sustainable management

Major conclusions

The area of the Assessment focusing on legal and institutional frameworks for forest conservation and sustainable management draws four major conclusions based on the data.

1) Wisconsin has a well-balanced legal structure that addresses most forestry-related issues. Several components, however, are in constant revision to reflect evolving science, markets and social norms

Currently, the forestry community (e.g., stakeholders, tribes, agencies and landowners) is focusing effort on at least a dozen topics. These topics could be described as quickly evolving and requiring new standards or legislation, standards needing revision or issues that require more effort and collaboration to resolve. They include biomass-bioenergy, climate change, wildland fire suppression and emergency response, invasive species, forest tax law incentives and other ecosystem services programs, deer management, forest certification, the forest economy, tribal relations, funding to acquire public lands and conservation easements, forest based recreation and land use planning.

2) There is a growing demand for small private forest land management assessments and plans

Overall, the growth in private lands planning is beneficial. Landowners are expressing desire to manage for new objectives such as carbon sequestration and biomass. Growth in private land plans comes with issues, including increased workload for foresters requiring knowledge and expertise to write plans for new types of objectives.

  • The advent of third-party certification increased the intensity of resource assessments and planning on both public and private forest lands. Landowners wanting the benefits of certification must document that they are managing in accordance with the standards.
  • Two factors are increasing the number of DNR-reviewed management plans for landowners: the sale of land once owned by industry to small private forest owners and re-enrollment of landowners in MFL as their old agreements expire.
  • Use of renewable fuel and harvesting of biomass involves a major paradigm shift and landowners need advice from foresters on how to incorporate this into their management plans.

3) The number of community and statewide forest plans are growing

Proactive planning prepares communities and the state for emergencies such as insect infestation (e.g. emerald ash borer) and wildfire. These assessments and plans provide citizens with greater process transparency and opportunities to participate.

  • U.S. Forest Service, State and Private Forestry Stewardship Program is piloting a new focus on using landscape-scale plans in the northeastern area.
  • A growing number of communities are creating management plans at the landscape level to protect themselves from wildfire, invasive pests such as the emerald ash borer and other problems.
  • Across all land-holding agencies in Wisconsin, over 4.5 million acres (72 percent) of the over 6.3 million acres of public forest land in the state have forest cover type data used for management planning that was developed since 2000.
  • While there was a steady increase in communities that have urban forest inventories over the last 16 years, two-thirds of Wisconsin communities still lack an inventory of their resource.

4) Statewide sustainable forestry is not just the responsibility of one group or agency but requires partnerships with all members of the forestry community

Landowners, agencies, industry, tribes and the public have various values and management goals for forests in the state. Divergent values and management goals may clash at times but collaboration focused on commonalities is needed to affect change and move programs and policies forward.

  • Some Native American tribes have specific off-reservation treaty rights on public lands. The process of consultation between Wisconsin's 11 tribes and other governments evolved over the years and is proving productive, resulting in major agreements and coordinated resource management efforts. Continuing success will demand focused efforts by all parties.
  • Information sharing and technology improvement is increasing between agencies, private foresters and landowners. These partnerships will be crucial in solving the costly needs for fire detection in areas overseen by the Division of Forestry and by partner agencies, including the Forest Service, Menominee Tribal Enterprises and others.
  • People and organizations in the forestry community are building partnerships to leverage each other's resources and niche expertise. Examples include volunteer fire departments building capacity to assist DNR wildfire suppression and certified plan writers developing MFL plans in cooperation with the DNR.
  • The amount of land open under MFL has decreased. This suggests a need to revisit the adequacy of policies intended to encourage availability of land for public access and identify alternatives that may involve the range of landowners and agencies working together to reverse this trend or provide for public access elsewhere.
  • The Council on Forestry has developed a set of research needs and is working to facilitate the various entities and align resources to obtain needed research in these areas. Due to limited resources, partnerships for research and coordination of efforts are all the more crucial.
  • The urban forest is a mosaic of highly altered landscapes. They span properties, ownerships and jurisdictions. Municipalities, utilities, counties, the state and private individuals could all potentially own land in a very small area. Because of this, urban forest landscapes are best managed on various levels and require the partnering of various owners in an area.
Last revised: Monday September 28 2015