Forests must be maintained for their own sake, due to their functions within the natural cycle and as habitats for fauna and flora. Wherever necessary, they should he ameliorated and in carefully selected areas even extended. Especially near-natural forests should be conserved as representative exam-ples of natural ecosystems of the central European deciduous forest belt and as natural forests without any exploitation by man (core area). The natural dynamism of forest ecosystems including breakdown and pioneer phases can only develop in an undisturbed manner in forests without any human interference. The majority of the forest should still be available for further production of the environmentally friendly raw material wood; forestry must take into account sustainability and long-term developments. The guiding framework for forestry in the biosphere reserve consists in the requirement to manage the whole of the forest in accordance with near-natural or natural maintenance methods. The forests in public ownership play an exemplary role in such cases. As in the case of agricul-ture, cultivation intensities should be adapted to different site qualities, the state of the forests and its functions. Forests in special or extreme sites as well as forests with special functions in the natural household must he managed very near-naturally and in accordance with their specific function. The forest cover should not be further extended in the biosphere reserve Rhön since the unique character of a "land of open expanses" should be preserved. Afforestation should not take place to the detriment of landscapes which are of value to nature conservation. Forest islands should rather be developed in cleared areas and in sites where near-natural forests hardly exist, such as in the farmed areas of the Lower Rhön.