Mountain forest provides to society multiple functions which are increasingly of public utility. It contributes to the protection of soils, of habitats and infrastructures. Beyond its direct economic role in the production of wood and the indirect one in the support of rural activities (grazing), tourism and recreation (including hunting), it is a basic element of the mountain natural heritage by its fauna and flora, and takes part in the cultural heritage by its landscapes and traditional practices.
During the last two decades, the economic context of mountain forest has been deeply modified. Subject to external competition, handicaps related to slope have been providing a consistent incomes degradation in forest production, bringing sometimes to abandon the management of individual forests and thus to risks of a further degradation.
Moreover, such a trend has been increasing within a societal process leading to parallel demands incorporating recreation-based utilities (ski-resorts and summer trekking) and to some catastrophic event recalling the role that trees and forest can play in protection. All those demands, sometimes complementary, sometimes competitive, which are making pressure on forest owners and managers, call for urgent actions adapted to the current critical situation.