Demand for Forest Ecosystem Services is increasing, partly due to growing populations and economies, but also to socio-economic changes resulting from society’s increased diversity and urbanisation (Ramensteiner et al., 2009).
These increasing demands can be complicated to manage, especially as the demand for wood from our forests is also increasing and forest management practices often value wood production over other services. Intensifying wood production often leads to simplification of the forest structure and composition: the forest is poorer in biodiversity and it impedes its capacity to provide other services that depend on this biodiversity, such as soil quality or aesthetic beauty. Managing a forest is thus choosing practices that will support forests in providing some or many goods and services.
Multifunctional forests are those that provide naturally or are managed for a wide variety of ecological, social and economic benefits.
Most of the goods and services that forests provide are common goods. Only some of them are formally part of markets or value chains and many important services have no direct monetary value. As historically forests have often been managed only for word production, other forest ecosystem services need policy and economic incentives to support them, and ways to value services with no direct market value, so that forest managers and owners are informed and have additional motivations to supply these services.