Global change is impacting forests worldwide, threatening biodiversity and ecosystem services including climate regulation. Understanding how forests respond is critical to forest conservation and climate protection. This review describes an international network of 59 long-term forest dynamics research sites (CTFS-ForestGEO) useful for characterizing forest responses to global change. Within very large plots (median size 25 ha), all stems ≥1 cm diameter are identified to species, mapped, and regularly recensused according to standardized protocols.