Finding sustainable and value-adding models for agricultural/NR services which reach poor communities has proved problematic. Privatisation appears more viable with commodities or enterprises that can easily be converted into cash, and more difficult where it is concerned with the broad range of benefits that are sought from natural resource (NR) management – which range from the commercial, through the risk- and vulnerability-reducing, to the environmental, and frequently have ‘public goods’ components. This paper captures these dilemmas by focusing on forestry extension for poor farmers, both on-farm and in forest areas. It describes the piloting of reforms in forest advisory services in Uganda, identifying livelihood opportunities and relevant service demands, exploring different kinds of services, and using community-based workers for delivering services. Early experience suggests lessons on the roles of and relations between individuals and institutions may have much wider relevance.