The MNFI data, especially in a GIS format, are not readily available to the general public. Two primary concerns, species sensitivity and private property issues, drive the need to consider MNFI data sensitive. MNFI's database contains the locations of Michigan's most sensitive species. These species are vulnerable to exploitation. Some of the species, both plants and animals, are collected for sale or personal enjoyment. Others are very sensitive to disturbances or trampling. MNFI species location information could be used harm a species, either deliberately or inadvertently.
The MNFI database contains species information from private lands. This information has come from surveys performed with landowner permission or sometimes from landowners themselves. Information from private property can potentially affect property values. This is a very sensitive issue. Property owners have informed MNFI about species on their property but requested that the information not be incorporated into the database.
MNFI information can, and should, be used to protect Michigan's biodiversity. Dissemination of MNFI information must, however, be tempered by the need for information sensitivity. Requestors and users of MNFI information must recognize the need for information sensitivity.