Protection of biodiversity on private forest land often yields conflict. In standard economic theory, disputes about compensation and compensation level are held forward as the main reason for conflict. We discuss the reasons for conflict in protection of biodiversity in forests also including institutional explanations and use survey data on Nordic forest owners to empirically explore different hypotheses for why conflict appears. Type of process and level of communication stand out as important elements when explaining forest owners’ attitudes towards forest protection. If one wants to lessen or avoid conflict, offering forest owners extended possibilities to participate in the protection process is important.