Forest Conservation and Management Benefits

Forests are an important part of our state’s environment and economy. When forests are not well-managed, they are often unhealthy and unproductive because of overcrowding, disease, insects, invasive species, and competition for light, water and nutrients. When they are well-managed, forests provide:

  • Forests renew our air supply by absorbing carbon dioxide and producing oxygen. Trees also clean our atmosphere by intercepting airborne particles and absorbing ground-level ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide and other greenhouse gases. A single tree can absorb 10 pounds of air pollutants a year and produce nearly 260 pounds of oxygen. (SOURCE)
  • Forests absorb and filter rainwater into groundwater. This work is crucial to cities that rely on groundwater for drinking water for millions of people. Healthy forests ensure that groundwater is recharged and performs the first stage of filtration to make the water drinkable.
  • Forest management often includes ensuring that forest lands are set up to thrive and therefore able to provide diverse habitat for thousands of Michigan wildlife species.
  • The variety of tree species and ages in a forest determines everything from the types of wildlife it can support to the threats it can withstand. Ensuring that Michigan’s forests host a different mix of trees and understory plants to support our wildlife is key to their survival and continued success.
  • Wildlife need a variety of habitats, including different forest types, to meet their needs. Cottontail rabbits prefer the forest edge where a mix of habitats can be found such as forest, brushy thickets and fields. Many snakes can also benefit from shelter, like brush and logs, that are found near the forest edge. Deer prefer areas with young forests where they can reach a variety of food sources, such as buds and leaves, that would be out of reach in older forests. Many species of owls require mature forests for nest sites and some squirrels also prefer mature forests.
  • Michigan’s forests provide the ideal location to retreat, relax and marvel at our state’s natural beauty. The state offers tremendous opportunity to enjoy woodlands, from sprawling forests in Northern Michigan to wooded urban areas in Detroit.
  • Healthy forests are also the setting for some Michiganders’ favorite outdoor activities – everything from camping, hiking and biking to mushroom hunting, snowmobiling and hunting.
  • Healthy, well-managed forests can mitigate the severity of various potentially dangerous natural disturbances to both wildlife and people who live nearby. Healthy trees and root systems absorb water to decrease the threat of flooding following heavy rains or snowmelts and keep soil in place rather than allowing dangerous slides of mud.
  • Careful, scientific forest management also clears potential fire-starting vegetation from becoming too much of a threat.
  • Every year, Michigan trees are cut down and used to make a wide variety of items critically important to modern life. Many tree types regenerate on their own, and for other forest types, millions of trees are planted every year to replace those that are harvested.
  • The Michigan forest products industry contributes almost $18 billion annually to state and local economies and supports 84,000 jobs.

To maintain or improve the health and productivity of a forest, foresters use a number of management practices. Learn more.