The Uttar Pradesh hills in India present an unusual situation in that deforestation up to the 1980s could not be attributed to clearance of land for agriculture or to population growth. This paper argued that deforestation was largely due to civil forest lands being treated as open access resources. Collectively managed panchayat forests were less degraded, though management would probably be improved by giving panchayats greater autonomy. Private landowners were often unaware of their own rights over trees. The author concluded that there was no ideal system of forest tenure and that the best route would be to develop forestry differently in each of the governmental, communal and private sectors.