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The forest sector has already a long tradition in futures-oriented studies - examples of these are forest growth trends, timber trade outlooks as well as climate change scenarios. Furthermore, the futures orientation is also visible in the forest sector strategies and, for example research agendas and industry and technology roadmaps. However, foresight, and especially more extensive use of futures research methodology is a relatively new instrument in the forest sector.

Foresight can be defined as a systematic, participatory, future intelligence gathering and medium-to-long-term vision-building process aimed at present day decisions and mobilizing joint actions. Thus, foresight builds capacity to tackle futures beyond extrapolation of present and foreseeable trends. The focus is on exploring possible futures and the key factors of change - some of them already visible as emerging issues (weak signals), some of them coming as a surprise (wild cards) and with a major impact on our lives.

This section provides examples of forward-looking studies and foresight exercises carried out in the forest sector as well as related sectors (agriculture, environment, energy and socio-economics). The information has been collected in the framework of the COST strategic workshop series "Foresight on Future Demand for Forest-based Products and Services" (2010-2011).

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