This work proceeds from the assumption that a European environmental information and communication system (EEICS) is already established. In the context of primary users (land-use planners, conservationists, and environmental researchers) we ask what use may be made of the EEICS for building models and tools which is of use in building decision support systems for the land-use planner. The complex task facing the next generation of environmental and forest modellers is described, and a range of relevant modelling approaches are reviewed. These include visualization and GIS; statistical tabulation and database SQL, MDA and OLAP methods. The major problem of noncomparability of the definitions and measures of forest area and timber volume is introduced and the possibility of a model-based solution is considered. The possibility of using an ambitious and challenging biogeochemical modelling approach to understanding and managing European forests sustainably is discussed. It is emphasised that all modern methodological disciplines must be brought to bear, and a heuristic hybrid modelling approach should be used so as to ensure that the benefits of practical empirical modelling approaches are utilised in addition to the scientifically well-founded and holistic ecosystem and environmental modelling. The data and information system required is likely to end up as a grid-based-framework because of the heavy use of computationally intensive model-based facilities.