The new Dutch forest monitoring network is a policy-guided, multiple-use, GIS-oriented forest monitoring network. It is designed to provide the Dutch government, on a cyclic 8-year basis, with actual information about Dutch forests. Variables that reflect the information needs of policy makers and interest groups were selected by means of interviews and workshops. High-ranking variables are: wood stock, ownership, stand age, management status, biodiversity, carbon stock, and recreational use. These and other variables are being measured in 3622 forest sites, selected according to an unaligned systematic sampling design. The data are stored in an ORACLE data base, made accessible through the internet. The Dutch forest area approximates a total of 360 000 ha; 46% is owned by private owners and organisations for nature conservation. Coniferous forests dominate (60%). Most forests were planted in 1940-1980. The total above ground volume of living trunk wood amounts to 56.3 million m3. The most common tree species are Quercus robur, Pinus sylvestris, and Betula pendula, the most common shrubs are Sorbus aucuparia, Prunus serotina, and Rhamnus frangula; while the most common other plant species are Deschampsia flexuosa, Rubus fruticosus s.l., and Dryopteris dilatata.