Humans rely on healthy forests to supply energy, building materials, and food and to provide services such as storing carbon, hosting biodiversity, and regulating climate. Defining forest health integrates utilitarian and ecosystem measures of forest condition and function, implemented across a range of spatial scales. Although native forests are adapted to some level of disturbance, all forests now face novel stresses in the form of climate change, air pollution, and invasive pests. Detecting how intensification of these stresses will affect the trajectory of forests is a major scientific challenge that requires developing systems to assess the health of global forests. It is particularly critical to identify thresholds for rapid forest decline, because it can take many decades for forests to restore the services that they provide.