Usnea longissima is a conspicuous circumboreal “beard lichen” draping tree canopies in moist coastal and mountainous forests. It is extirpated in many European and North-American localities, presumably due to industrial forestry and air pollution, but still has a stronghold in parts of Scandinavia and U.S. and Canadian Pacific Northwest. Using a retrospective approach, we reconstructed the stand histories in 24 plots (0.1 ha) of mature Norway spruce (Picea abies) forest stands in Lillehammer, Norway, of which 21 was selected due to the presence of U. longissima. Number of trees with U. longissima present within plots varied from 4 to 37 and number of visible thalli from 12 to 469. The detailed stand reconstructions were done by means of tree-ring analysis of 517 living trees and the size and decay stage of 1423 stumps from logging and 467 dead trees. Total harvested volume during the last 100 years ranged 100–370 m3ha–1 (representing 40–350% of the present-day standing volume), and present amount of dead wood ranged 2–87 m3ha–1 (1.0–37% of the standing volume). All stands had been selectively logged 2–4 times during the last 100 years, of which 5 stands almost to a clearcut appearance. We used a variety of present-day and historic forest structural variables, both at the scale of study plots and individual trees, to predict the occurrence and abundance of U. longissima. Although most forest stand variables failed in this respect, there were indications of a certain negative influence of the historic logging activity. Number of thalli present on trees showed a unimodal relationship to present-day tree density, indicating that medium dense forest stands are most favorable for U. longissima. We tentatively suggest that selective logging, securing lichen-rich trees, may be a viable management option to keep tree density at a moderate level in the long run, thereby enhancing growth and establishment of U. longissima.