As societies seek to transition towards a sustainable economy, new conflicts may arise from additional competing demands placed on limited resources and space. Using a perceptional approach, we show that such structural-functional conflicts are primarily perceived when other sectors' demands encroach on traditional use of forest resources or space. Moreover, using experts' assessment of stakeholder preferences, we also demonstrate that traditional forest actors have a pronounced preference for soft instruments. At the interface between sustainable sectors, however, regulatory instruments remain well accepted. These findings indicate that forest stakeholders seek to ward off other sectors' demands on the forest. The results are central in understanding where new conflicts are expected and how forest stakeholders seek to protect the forest from new demands, especially in the context of an ever-increasing competition over land use. This finding emphasises the importance of understanding competing cross-sectoral demands on a resource, even when all economic activity is in pursuit of the same overall goal, namely sustainability. Demonstrating the effect of encroaching sectors on policy instrument preference, we link the policy integration literature, which considers cross-sectoral politics, to the policy instrument literature.