This article examines global trends likely to influence forests and tree-based systems and considers the poverty implications of these interactions. The trends, identified through a series of expert discussions and review of the literature, include: (i) climatic impacts mediated through changes in forests, (ii) growth in commodity markets, (iii) shifts in private and public forest sector financing, (iv) technological advances and rising interconnectivity, (v) global socio-political movements, and (vi) emerging infectious diseases. These trends bring opportunities and risks to the forest-reliant poor. A review of available evidence suggests that in a business-as-usual scenario, the cumulative risks posed by these global forces, in conjunction with limited rights, resources, and skills required to prosper from global changes, are likely to place poor and transient poor households under additional stress. The article concludes with an assessment of how interventions for enhancing forest management, combined with supportive policy and institutional conditions, can contribute to a different and more prosperous future for forests and people.