Forests are expected to contribute towards an increase in supply of sustainable renewable materials and energy, which is commonly referred to as ‘wood mobilization’. In Europe, much attention has focused on the gap between wood potentially and actually harvested. This paper assesses the evidence for successful interventions, based on a critical review of evidence conducted through the EU-funded project SIMWOOD (Sustainable Innovative Mobilisation of Wood). Few evaluations are able to report the impact of interventions on the amount of wood harvested in a way that can be attributed unambiguously to the intervention. The review concludes that (1) there is a need to focus less on surveys of constraints and more on real-life interventions and their success or otherwise; (2) more could be learnt from the experience of such interventions, if evaluations were published in the scientific literature, and if qualitative methods were included, to help understand why stakeholders do or do not change behaviours and increase wood harvests; (3) successful interventions are multifaceted (often combining incentives and advice, or farming and forestry, or production and markets) and (4) although experience can be shared effectively between regions, interventions must be tailored to local social, biophysical and political conditions and developed in context.