The three-year project (2004-2007) will contribute research-based lessons and experiences about viable pathways for ‘adding value’ to community forestry (CF) in the areas of livelihood benefits, equity and sustainability. The approach on which we focus – that we refer to as ‘adaptive collaborative management’ – is intended to increase effectiveness and equity in CF management and governance through increased adaptive capacity of CF actors and institutions and more effective linkages within and between them. In doing so, we bring our targeted actors and institutions to engage in transformative social learning and reconstruction of relations of power and institutional practices (or understand why it does not occur as part of research). It differs from many commonly applied approaches in CF in that it very explicitly considers management and governance as themselves processes of cooperative inquiry and innovations rather than translate pre-determined indicators into practice. Our approach emphasizes learning and transforming both in governance and management. The process ignites and sensitizes actors to think of beyond boxes and boundaries, assumptions and rituals, and undertake active self and collaborative actions and monitoring to test new ideas and learn from them.