For a long time, forests have primarily been managed or established to supply wood and timber. During the past decades, the role of forests as a provider of a wider range of goods and services has become more pronounced and it is likely that demands on forests will continue to become stronger and spatially more diversified (for example, demands on forests as a resource for bio energy is likely to grow.) Production of wood and other traditional forest resources will have to be balanced with other kinds of goods and services from the forest ecosystems, including biodiversity conservation.
In addition, competition for land between different types of land use (agriculture, infrastructure, housing, recreation, etc) will continue to rise. This may also affect the area available for forests, although the pressure on forest land will vary greatly from region to region. Europe must develop frameworks capable of addressing and balancing these demands to create optimal forest landscapes in the future while conserving biodiversity. These frameworks need to be flexible and responsive to the local context and needs and they need to recognize the role of forest owners in providing the forest good and services. Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) schemes will become more important mechanisms to support the management of forest goods and services.
Forests, as the hosts of much of the biodiversity in Europe, are vital to this struggle. Any initiative designed to halt the biodiversity loss in Europe must take forests into account. Despite political commitment and some progress on the ground, Europe is struggling to halt the loss of biodiversity.
Maintaining and increasing public awareness of the Europeans about forests, their biodiversity and their cultural values is a challenge. Education (via schools and information programmes) of interest groups on nature, local biodiversity, history and ethnography are essential for the long-term conservation of forest biodiversity.