The genetic information about forest trees is not only of crucial importance for the yield of forestry production systems, but also for determining the evolutionary adaptive potential of tree populations. Thus, the stability of forest ecosystems depends on the sustainable management of forest genetic resources. In this context, tree breeding and conservation of forest genetic resources are mentioned as main applications of research in forest genetics. Genetic inventories are conducted in order to observe the spatial distribution of genetic information at gene marker loci. Such studies allow us to elucidate the evolutionary history of populations and, thus, to draw conclusions about their evolutionary adaptability. Results of a genetic inventory of oak (Quercus spp.) populations native to Switzerland are presented, and their significance for the characterization of genetic systems and adaptive potential is discussed. Future research into forest genetics should aim at improving our understanding of the relationship between variation at biochemical and molecular marker loci and adaptive processes in forest tree populations. The temporal dynamics of genetic structures of forest tree populations as a consequence of anthropogenic environmental change is another important topic of forest genetics in particular for the conservation of rare species.