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Managed Forest Law Certified Group

The Department of Natural Resources manages a group forest certification program for non-industrial forestland enrolled in the Managed Forest Law.

Membership in the MFL Certified Group is free and entirely voluntary for landowners. Prior to 2017 it was open to landowners who had a minimum of 10 acres. But in 2017 the minimum changed to 20 acres to a maximum of 2,470 acres enrolled under the Managed Forest Law. New MFL applicants and landowners transferring into the program must decide whether to join the MFL certified group [PDF]. Once a group member, individual participants may elect to leave the certified group without dropping out of MFL.

The MFL Certified Group is dually certified under American Tree Farm System® (ATFS), a program of the American Forest Foundation, and Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC). Group certification focuses on DNR's administration of the group and quality of management on member land. Third-party auditors determine if the MFL Group conforms to ATFS [exit DNR] and FSC [exit DNR] standards.

Since 2005, these combined recognitions of the Managed Forest Law have created the largest group certification program for private landowners in North America. Large industrial-owned tracts enrolled under the Managed Forest Law are not included in the certified group, but many are certified on their own.

American Tree Farm System - Certified Family Forest logo.

Wisconsin MFL Tree Farm Group Record #007
Certification #SCS-ATFS-004622

The Forest Stewardship Council logo.

Certification #SCS-FM/COC-004622

Benefits from membership in the MFL certified group include:

  • The ability to sell timber in the certified marketplace.
    Many wood-using industries here and around the world are buying certified wood as evidence to consumers that forested lands are well managed and that their raw materials come from legal sources.
  • An opportunity to display the Tree Farm sign, take pride in your management efforts and educate your neighbors and the public about the importance of well-managed private forests.
    The American Tree Farm System and Forest Stewardship Council are widely recognized symbols of responsible forestry. Participation in the MFL certified group strengthens the message that private lands play a critical role in protecting our environment and serving the needs of society. Order your ATFS sign [exit DNR] from the Wisconsin Tree Farm Committee.

Group certification may involve some unique land management requirements that could go beyond the general MFL program as listed below. Full responsibilities are described in Chapter 221 [PDF] of the Forest Tax Law Handbook [PDF].

  • Using pesticides (when needed) that are not prohibited by Forest Stewardship Council.
    Information about FSC prohibited chemicals is available.
  • Not planting Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in the forest.
    GMOs are created through engineered gene splicing, not traditional breeding, and are prohibited by the council since their affect on the environment is unknown.
  • Keeping forest products harvested from certified land separate from products harvested from non-certified land during commercial harvest operations.
    Forest certification programs prohibit attempts to sell non-certified wood under a certification claim.
  • Adhering to Wisconsin Forestry Best Management Practices (BMPs).
    BMPs are voluntary (not legal regulations), but MFL Group members are expected to abide by them.
  • Including liability insurance and safety requirements in timber sale contracts.

Check out the MFL tip sheet, An Overview of Group Member Responsibilities, Requirements & Resources [PDF], to learn more.