Sustainability has been long incorporated into forestry in the form of Sustainable Forest Management (SFM). SFM attempts to balance the productive and protective functions of forests. Each of these two ends of the spectrum also attempt to incorporate elements of the social – non-timber forest products that can have cultural origins and protecting forests for recreational uses. While SFM has contributed to the balance in forest uses, there have been a number of conflicts that have been introduced, particularly in light of SFM policies not explicitly incorporating the social and ‘un-envisioned’ future developments such as bioenergy.

The incorporation of broader SFM into national forest policy has been voluntary, operating under the voluntary and collaborative Forest Europe process. Recent attempts to further incorporate and enshrine sustainability in forests have involved negotiations to develop a legally binding agreement on forests in Europe (LBA). This series of negotiations has exposed further conflicts, in addition to the ones ‘on the ground’, within and between countries, as well as between different actors (state actors, forest stakeholders, environmental stakeholders, etc.).

Having followed the process leading up to the LBA negotiations and the negotiations themselves, the authors have investigated the linkages between the local, national and supra-national conflicts. The conflicts within countries are often seen between different government departments or ministries – forest and agriculture ministries vs. environment ministries vs. industry ministries. As each government department or ministry looks after the interests of their key stakeholders. By dissecting the conflicts and their linkages, we are able to understand how possible solutions to these problems can be operationalised.

The fragmentation of the forest sector in policy and power differentials have, in many cases, contributed to national conflicts. Increased coordination and collaboration through policy integration at the national level may decrease some of the supra-national conflict by reducing the ‘internal’ conflict, including that between the wider variety of actors. By having wider policy integration, there is a greater opportunity to integrate economic development, environmental protection and social aspects of forestry.