Promotion of farm forestry on privately owned fields was generally a success in India by the mid 1980s, but community forestry was not - it faced several big challenges identified in this paper. Communal plantations were usually planted by the State Forest Department and after a few years handed over to local communities represented by panchayat committees. Subsequently, local people tended to view plantations as state property. Panchayat members were in general members of local elites while poorer people were excluded from decision-making and financial benefits, and remained unsure of their individual stakes in the plantations. The authors argued that the survival of the Social Forestry Programme in India depended on addressing these issues of equity and organisation.