If there is a strong argument in favour of multifunctional forest management, there is also controversy regarding the types of multifunctionality able to instil virtuous circles across landscapes. Managing forests in such a way that user groups, sustainability practitioners and forestry institutions all agree to, is not easy. For any reliable consensus to occur, via viable landscape design procedures, through which multiple functions (production, environmental protection and recreation) may be coordinated by means of innovative planning, there is a need to negotiate a set of common objectives and shared responsibilities. This paper examines the policy dimensions of multifunctional forest management, and, through an exploratory case study, proposes an approach for cooperative planning and institutional design. The case study involved two parishes in the Minho region of Portugal (Gavieira and Entre Ambos-os-Rios) combining the local communities, the National Park, and local forestry officers. The case study created, developed and validated two scenario storylines through a series of participatory processes (two focus group meetings, one comprehensive workshop, and one expert meeting). One scenario focussed on continuity of the traditional management patterns, with an emphasis on direct goods such as timber and livestock grazing (traditional multifunctionality). The other concentrated on indirect ecological services, such as soil and water protection, as well as carbon sequestration (new multifunctionality). An attempt was also made to implement the scenario storylines through initiating a pilot project in both of the case study areas. However, there were neither robust planning mechanisms nor adaptive governance systems with the capacity to put into place forest management " futures" likely to deliver more sustainable landscape-scale uses in these areas. This paper illustrates the difficulties in forging governance systems that have the capacity and the vision to be able to put sustainable development concepts into practice, even when a coherent package of planning measures are tried out, given a policy setting that is confused, contradictory, and where the " status quo" tends to be given prominence.