Most members of the oomycete genus Phytophthora are primary plant pathogens. Both soil- and airborne Phytophthora species are able to survive adverse environmental conditions with enduring resting structures, mainly sexual oospores, vegetative chlamydospores and hyphal aggregations. Soilborne Phytophthora species infect fine roots and the bark of suberized roots and the collar region with motile biflagellate zoospores released from sporangia during wet soil conditions. Airborne Phytophthora species infect leaves, shoots, fruits and bark of branches and stems with caducous sporangia produced during humid conditions on infected plant tissues and dispersed by rain and wind splash. During the past six decades, the number of previously unknown Phytophthora declines and diebacks of natural and semi-natural forests and woodlands has increased exponentially, and the vast majority of them are driven by introduced invasive Phytophthora species. Nurseries in Europe, North America and Australia show high infestation rates with a wide range of mostly exotic Phytophthora species. Planting of infested nursery stock has proven to be the main pathway of Phytophthoraspecies between and within continents. This review provides insights into the history, distribution, aetiology, symptomatology, dynamics and impact of the most important canker, decline and dieback diseases caused by soil- and airborne Phytophthora species in forests and natural ecosystems of Europe, Australia and the Americas.