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Forest, Wetlands & Habitat System

The Forest, Wetlands, and Habitat System (FWH) is designed to assess ecological conditions of lands not farmed. The assessment combines well-developed forest sustainability standards with professionally reviewed evaluation criteria for rating the quality and function of wetlands and non-forest habitat. FWH is applicable to a variety of land cover including, but not limited to, upland forests, lowland forests, grasslands, savanna, marsh, bog, and dunes. This assessment can be applied on farms as well as non-farms and can be complimentary to other MAEAP systems.

FWH reflects the American Tree Farm System (Tree Farm) Standards for Sustainability in order to allow forest landowners to pursue Tree Farm without additional cost. MAEAP encourages forestland owners to pursue Tree Farm in addition to verification.

MAEAP now provides owners of all types of land with the tools and resources to sustainably manage their properties in a manner that meets their individual objectives. Forest, Wetlands, and Habitat*A*Syst provides incremental steps to sustainable management of natural resources.

Verification

After the FWH assessment is complete, a plan is developed for addressing all identified conservation opportunities and resource concerns. Any immediate risks of groundwater and surface water contamination must be mitigated by the landowner. Once the plan is in place, and there are no risks to groundwater and surface water, landowners can contact the Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development (MDARD) to request Forest, Wetlands, and Habitat System verification (517-284-5609 or mda-esd-maeap@michigan.gov). A MDARD MAEAP verifier will visit the property to verify that the Forest, Wetlands, and Habitat*A*Syst plan has been implemented and to ensure that the landowner is addressing all applicable environmental risks.

Once a property has been “verified,” the landowner will receive MAEAP verification signage which should be proudly displayed on the property. Verified properties are eligible for MAEAP cost-share incentives, low-cost lending, and reduced liability insurance premiums from participating companies.

MAEAP verification is valid for five years. To maintain MAEAP verification, a landowner must review the appropriate risk assessment (A*Syst) with their local conservation district and request a site visit from MDARD by calling 517-284-5609.  

To get started, you must attend a MAEAP educational session.