This work reviews the background and evolution of Community Forestry in Asia, and in particular Southeast Asia, exploring the importance of forests for rural communities. It explores ways in which the state and local communities can forge new relationships and systems of forest management that preserve forests and provide an enabling environment in which rural people can benefit from forest resources. Forests as common property resources have traditionally been managed by rural communities but these systems have been consistently undermined by both colonial and state rule. Indigenous systems and institutions for forest governance are now being promoted by NGO''s and civil society groups as more sustainable and equitable alternatives to state management, especially when they incorporate local knowledge and decentralised decision making. This paper aims to provide a comprehensive examination of how Community Forestry has established itself as an important development and conservation strategy, and of the obstacles it faces at both the local and national levels.