Forests in mountain regions must fulfill a number of important functions under sometimes difficult climatic and economic conditions. The main goal of management must be the maintenance or improvement of stability, of which the stand structure is a clear indicator. Therefore, the typology of the description of the stand must be brought into line with the functions that must be fulfilled. The description is based on reference areas. Knowledge of the dynamics of the stand types as well as of the functions is also important in order to suggest practical silvicultural measures for maintaining stability. In particular,this knowledge enables the determination of the minimal intervention that is necessary, while considering stability, in an area where economic conditions are difficult.
Special emphasis will be placed on presenting the conditions under which spruce grow in the northern French Alps. These considerations lead to an elaboration of agroforestry guidelines, which are defined from case to case.