The social dimension of sustainable forestry has repeatedly been regarded as difficult to comprehend. However, the social and societal considerations within forestry have been steadily evolving during the past decades intertwined as well with the overall global social development efforts as with the innovations produced by various practical grassroots forestry actors. The recent new concepts of ecosystem approach and ecosystem services provide new insights into the social complexity of forestry. The main part of the article describes recent developments related to the above mentioned concepts in Finland both nationally and in state-owned and private forests. The article is finalised by conclusions concerning the role of concepts as tools for promoting forestry’s contribution to sustainable development.