In the Amazon region, efforts to put Community Forestry into practice have achieved only modest results. The international research project ForLive, analysing experiences in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Brazil, revealed that considerable external resources are needed to overcome the technical, legal and financial barriers inherent in the current community forestry framework. As a consequence no spontaneous option takes place. To enable smallholders in effectively using their forests, there is an urgent need to revise this framework. Alternatives should start from existing locally developed practices with emphasis on education and extension. Larger areas of public forests should also be provided to communities, as, with appropriate investments in training, infrastructure and equipment, they have shown themselves able to effectively meet social, economic and environmental goals. Policy needs to distinguish more clearly between these goals. Improved social development skills are needed to support innovation and dissemination of locally appropriate practices and to strengthen local capacity for regulation and control.