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Managed Forest Law Group Forest Certification

The Department of Natural Resources manages a group 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.

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 American Tree Farm System® (ATFS) 2015-2020 standards, a program of the American Forest Foundation, and Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) principles and performance measures.

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 #NSF-ATF-1Y942

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 educate 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.

Group certification may involve some unique land management requirements that could go beyond the general MFL program. Full responsibilities are described in Chapter 21 of Wis. Stats.: Managed Forest Law Certified Group of the Forest Tax Law Handbook [PDF]. They include:

  • Using pesticides (when needed) that are not prohibited by Forest Stewardship Council.
    Information about FSC prohibited chemicals is available [PDF].
    Report your chemical use on MFL land.
  • 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.

See a one page summary [PDF] that highlights the benefits and responsibilities of landowners who are members of the MFL certified group.

American Tree Farm System resources

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) resources

Managed Forest Law (MFL) resources

Forest Tax Law resources

Other general resources

List of MFL certified group members

The following list includes certified group members' land in Adobe Acrobat file format. To verify if an MFL order number is included in the certified group, use the search tool within Adobe Acrobat Reader to look it up. Enter the nine-digit MFL order number (including the hyphens) into the search box. You can also browse the list by county, municipality and legal description.

Note that the list only designates MFL certified group members. It does not indicate if the land is open or closed to public access. To protect the privacy of the property owners, the list does not include landowner names.