The forests of our globe play a major role in protecting the climate and the environment. They are both an important natural source of energy and resource for innumerable wood products and home to an immense biodiversity. For decades now, warnings have been issued against uncontrolled logging and its disastrous impacts particularly in the Brazilian Amazon, in south-east Asia and central Africa. How can humankind sustainably exploit the forests and at the same time protect and preserve them? This focus issue of Rural 21 provides some answers.