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Wisconsin's Private Woodlands

Wisconsin's 16 million acres of forestland cover nearly half of the state. You might be surprised to learn that individuals and families hold the largest portion (57%). About 360,000 private, non-industrial landowners care for 10.4 million acres of woodland in Wisconsin.

Privately owned forests enrich all of our lives. Environmentally, they provide clean water, clean air, erosion control, wildlife habitat and sanctuaries for hundreds of species of rare plants and animals and natural communities.

Socially, they provide places for work, recreation, scenic beauty and solitude.

Economically, they provide the raw materials for homes, offices, furniture, paper, medicines, paints, plastics and many products you might not realize come from trees. In Wisconsin, more than 1,850 wood-using companies produce nearly $20 billion of forest products every year. Over 64% of their raw material needs are supplied from private land and over 300,000 jobs in the state rely on the forest products industry.

More on the benefits of managing your private lands [PDF].

Your land, your legacy

The management decisions made by small private woodland owners collectively shape the forested landscape of Wisconsin. Due to the large impact that individual woodland owners have on the landscape, management of private woodlands has become increasingly important.

As a private woodland owner, the decisions that you make about managing your land will impact the quality of its resources for future generations. By making sustainable management decisions that meet your objectives for your land, you are also helping to conserve resources into the future.

Sustainable forestry

Sustainable Forestry is the practice of managing dynamic forest ecosystems to provide ecological, economic, social and cultural benefits for present and future generations. For Wisconsin’s forests to continue to support existing and emerging industries, and provide the ecosystem services essential to all citizens, its forests need to be protected and sustainably managed.

Setting goals and developing a plan

Why do you own your woodland? What would you like to do with it? As a private woodland owner, it is up to you to decide what you want from your property. Before establishing a new woodland, or caring for your existing woodland, set your goals so you know what result you are working towards. Whatever management actions you take or don’t take on your land will have long-term impacts, which is why it is so important to have a plan.

Having a management plan can allow you to actively manage your woodland to meet your goals while ensuring the integrity of its resources into the future. DNR foresters and cooperating foresters can help you make a plan. Get started today!

Additional resources to help you get started: