Molecular markers have proven to be invaluable tools for assessing plants’ genetic resources by improving our understanding with regards to the distribution and the extent of genetic variation within and among species. Recently developed marker technologies allow the uncovering of the extent of the genetic variation in an unprecedented way through increased coverage of the genome. Markers have diverse applications in plant sciences, but certain marker types, due to their inherent characteristics, have also shown their limitations. A combination of diverse marker types is usually recommended to provide an accurate assessment of the extent of intra- and inter-population genetic diversity of naturally distributed plant species on which proper conservation directives for species that are at risk of decline can be issued. Here, specifically, natural populations of forest trees are reviewed by summarizing published reports in terms of the status of genetic variation in the pure species. In general, for outbred forest tree species, the genetic diversity within populations is larger than among populations of the same species, indicative of a negligible local spatial structure. Additionally, as is the case for plants in general, the diversity at the phenotypic level is also much larger than at the marker level, as selectively neutral markers are commonly used to capture the extent of genetic variation. However, more and more, nucleotide diversity within candidate genes underlying adaptive traits are studied for signatures of selection at single sites. This adaptive genetic diversity constitutes important potential for future forest management and conservation purposes.