The road network is the backbone of forest management. When creating or redesigning a forest road network, one important question is how to shape the layout, this means to fix the spatial arrangement and the dimensioning standard of the roads. We consider two kinds of layout problems. First, new forest road network in an area without any such development yet, and second, redesign of existing road network for actual requirements. For each problem situation, we will present a method that allows to detect automatically the optimal road and harvesting layout. The method aims to identify a road network that concurrently minimizes the harvesting cost, the road network cost (construction and maintenance) and the hauling cost over the entire life cycle. Ecological issues can be considered as well. The method will be presented and discussed with the help of two case studies. The main benefit of the application of optimization tools consists in an objective-based planning, which allows to check and compare different scenarios and objectives within a short time. The responses coming from the case study regions were highly positive: practitioners suggest to make those methods a standard practice and to further develop the prototype to a user-friendly expert software.