Until July, 1997 the institute was named Arkhangelsk Forest and Forest Chemistry Institute (AFFCI). It was founded according to the Decree of the Presidium of the USSR Academy of Sciences 835 of the 26th of December, 1958.

The 1st director and organizer of the institute was Ivan Stepanovich Melekhov, Academician of the All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences. At different times, directors of the institute were: N.A. Moiseev, Academician of the Russian Academy of Agricultural Sciences, A.S. Sinnikov, Candidate of Agricultural Sciences, Honored Forester, and Hero of the Soviet Union, A.A. Listov, Doctor of Agricultural Sciences, G.A. Chibisov, Academician of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences and Honored Forester, and R.V. Sungurov, Candidate of Agricultural Sciences.

At present time, the institute is under the charge of the Federal Forest Agency. Acting director of the institute is Sergey Yaroslavtsev, Candidate of the Agricultural Sciences.

The main object of the institute research is development of the Northern forest utilization and reproduction, increase of forest multipurpose productivity for region`s forest complex providing with forest production, and maintenance of forest ecological-protective role. The Region is situated on the territory of 4 forest zones with area of 80 mln ha which assumes different approaches to forestry conduction, and consequently scientific support is needed. Scientific arias of the institute are traditionally defined as Northern Taiga and Pre-Tundra forestry with timber-processing and raw material and ecological-protective purposes. The institute is developer of science-technical products in the area of pre-tundra and north-taiga research, and also harvesting and reforestation methods of taiga forests, productivity increase, the forest and clearcuts typology.

Many issues on improvement of forest exploitation on the base of cutting systems, increase of complex productivity and ecological profitability of forests, development of effective reforestation technologies, selection, amelioration, and system of the European North forestry are determined on the Regional level.

About a half of the institute`s elaborations completely provide or represent a part of science-technological regulations of the branch and possess Federal level. These are methodological aspects of economical evaluation of forests; forest seed production; reforestation; biospheric role of pre-tundra forests; standards of forest tapping, thinning and main forest exploitation; forest estimation standards etc.

Actual resources of the institute enable to solve problems facing forestry enterprises either on the Federal or other levels owing to experienced and skilled personnel, availability of a great amount of experimental objects in different taiga subzones as scientific research basis, and long-term business connections with the foresters of the Region.

The institute includes two research laboratories of five sectors, Northern Forest Experimental Station, one Regional Laboratory (Vologda), and Dendrological Garden.

The institute collaborates with other forestry institutions (Saint-Petersburg Research Institute of Forestry (SPbNIILH), Russian Research Institute for Silviculture and Mechanization of Forestry (VNIILM), Far-East Research Institute of Forestry (DalNIILH), Scientific-Research Institute of Forest Genetics and Selection (NIILGIS), Russian Academy of Sciences (Institute of Biology, Komi Scientific Centre, Ural Branch, RAS; Forest Research Institute Karelian Research Centre RAS), Northern (Arctic) Federal University, Northern Forest Management Enterprise etc.

Researchers of the institute publish their scientific articles in central and foreign editions and also in proceedings of other institutes. For a half a century period of existence, there were published more than 5 thousands of papers.