Generally speaking, with the exception of the Russian Federation, there are few impediments to the implementation of sustainable forest management in temperate and boreal forests, which originate outside the forestry sector. In the Russian Federation, of course, the present social and economic state of the country results in sustainable forest management being given a lower priority than some of the other more pressing issues that have to be addressed. Hence, it is likely that current forest practices will continue in this country for some time to come.
In densely populated areas, such as Central Europe, expanding urban areas and infrastructure development often require the conversion of forestland to these other uses. On the other hand, agricultural land is also gradually being converted to forestland and these two processes largely cancel each other out. In some countries, the forest area is even expanding, as the conversion of agricultural land into forestland is greater than the conversion of forestland into other land-uses. In general, a similar situation to this also currently exists in North America.
According to the forest products industry in the United States of America, current laws, regulations, tax structures and other policies, compromise the ability of private landowners to implement sustainable forest management rather than promote its implementation. This is a concern because the industry is very dependent on private landowners for their long-term wood supply.
All over the world, the activities of NGOs and other advocates within the conservation movement have raised public awareness and shaped public opinion. In many countries, this has resulted in political action that has changed the policy framework in which forests are managed. However, in general, forest legislation is lagging behind developments in the sustainable forest management debate in many countries. In some countries, the forest products industry has negotiated management standards with NGOs, which commit them to implement measures, for nature conservation for example, that go far beyond what is currently required by law. This is somewhat confusing though, for the many millions of non-industrial private forest owners, when they are asked to meet the same standards. The opinion of many small forest owners is that they are doing all that they have to as long as their forest management and harvesting activities conform to all existing legal requirements.