Ecological Classification System

Performance Area: Natural Lands

Acres of state-administered forest lands mapped to native plant community


Why Is This Important?

The Ecological Classification System (ECS) is a scientific framework for managing natural resources. ECS tools (maps, databases, and field guides) help us select appropriate silvicultural treatments to optimize timber production and wildlife populations and protect water and soil. Mapping native plant communities on the DNR’s forest lands and classifying forest stands are essential for using ECS to guide sustainable forest management.


What Is DNR Doing?

The DNR’s field guides to the native plant communities of the state help field managers recognize plant communities and understand the soil and climate conditions that influence them. These field guides mark the culmination of nearly 20 years of research by the DNR and our cooperators. In 2004-2006 all DNR Forestry field staff were trained on ECS principles and began obtaining information on native plant communities in a systematic way.

In FY 2010 DNR Forestry significantly increased its effort when it started mapping native plant communities on large blocks of contiguous state lands. DNR Forestry completed silvicultural information for all 50 forested native plant communities. We will continue to improve silvicultural interpretations based on ecological characteristics of our native plant communities and make them easier to use by foresters, wildlife managers, park managers, and other land managers. In FY 2014, the DNR launched a geographic information system application to compile and coordinate native plant community mapping by all Divisions. This application also serves the data to agency and public users.


Target: Target: Map native plant communities on state forest land, about 2.7 million acres remaining, by 2024.

The DNR has accelerated efforts to map native plant communities in northern Minnesota. The long-term goal is to complete native plant community mapping for all state-administered forest land by 2024. Projected annual targets and accomplishments may change based on funding availability and work plan priorities.