The Institute was organized in 1957. It was started with the Forest Research Department of the Karelian Branch of the USSR Academy of Sciencies. It is currently comprised of 6 laboratories (Boreal Forest Dynamics and Production; Landscape Ecology and Forest Ecosystems Protection; Forest Pedology; Physiology and Cytology of Woody Plants; Forest Biotechnology; Analytical), 2 research stations (Kindasovo, Sopokha) and 3 field laboratories (Vendery, Kizhi and Kivach).
Forest is the principal biological component part in the regional landscapes. This fact makes theoretical and applied research carried out at the Institute important as it is.
FRI is a scientific research institution. Being a legal entity FRI works as a self-governing organization under immediate scientific and organizational supervision of the RAS Department of Biological Sciences. FRI is included in the structure of the regional Karelian Research Centre, RAS.