Cultural and institutional factors often present the greatest challenge to biodiversity monitoring because they cannot be readily solved through training or the development of new guidelines.

Most forest management systems are based on compliance assessments against static, minimum-practice standards. AM provides a more progressive approach that recognizes uncertainty, and employs a continuous cycle of design, management and monitoring to systematically test assumptions in order to adapt and learn.

AM is frequently misinterpreted, and formalized approaches that are based on manipulative experiments of different management treatments are often both practically and politically unfeasible. Passive approaches that overlay monitoring programmes on existing management regimes are more realistic but still require a close understanding of the social, economic and political context of the management system.

Marked differences in the level of guidance provided by regional management standards, even within the same certification system, mean that different countries and regions are at very different stages in the development of ecologically responsible systems of forest management.

Perhaps the most significant barrier facing biodiversity conservation in managed forests is a general reluctance among decision-makers to replace a static-command and control-style approach to management with an adaptive approach that recognizes uncertainty and the need for continuous improvement.