Forest research is going through a period of decisive change in terms of both structure and values as a result of economic and social developments. Researchers from the Department «Forest» at WSL have, therefore, been discussing potential challenges with other experts in order to be able to identify problems early and anticipate the consequences of global developments. We have been asking ourselves questions like: Are we doing the right thing? And are we doing it in the right way? We have drawn on these discussions in setting our longterm goals and core research areas for the next few years. The Department «Forest» plans to continue to focus mainly on ecological research but also to consider topics more from the points of view of economics and direct implementation. Steps in this direction have already been taken. The WSL Programme «Future-oriented Management of Forest Use» has been launched and the Section «Economics» has been strengthened with more people employed. The Section «Silvicultural Strategies» focuses on studying long-term forest development. It then uses these research findings to work out effective silvicultural strategies to steer the development of the forest. Thorough knowledge of the forest ecosystem and of the processes that take place within it is essential in order to answer the many questions raised. The Section «Forest Ecosystems and Ecological Risks» is investigating these processes and cause-effect relationships in forest ecosystems. It estimates the risks arising from changing environmental conditions. The Section «Soil Ecology» is concerned with long-term processes and changes taking place in the soil. It studies the influence of the increased deposition of acids, nitrogen compounds and inorganic pollutants, in particular heavy metals, on the soil and the associated risks to plants, soil-dwelling creatures and the groundwater. The Section «Forest and Environmental Protection» has become known as the centre for expertise on forest health in Switzerland. It makes recommendations and disseminates research findings and data to do with current issues in forest conservation. We are performing top research in these areas and are well known in international research circles, as the ETH-Council expects us to be. We intend in future to offer more support to those responsible for or interested in forests by providing applicable and future-oriented solutions to important and complex problems.