Efforts invested in the promotion of people-centered forest conservation have experienced a number of challenges which may be described as non-inclusive planning process, attitudinal, perverse policy regimes, non-intersectoral integration, and gender insensitivity.
Local communities often view initiatives focused on community involvement in forest conservation and management as a continuation of the state's control on forest resources. In some countries like Ethiopia, local communities have been unwilling to participate in forest activities with no clear basis on benefit sharing. Effective involvement of local people has mainly been discouraged through state monopolies on market for wood and forest products whose controlled prices are below the economic value, thus leaving the local people without an incentive to engage in forest activities aimed at wise utilization of forest products.
The issue of gender can also play an important role in most of the Anglophone countries yet it has not been adequately incorporated in forest conservation. Women in many cases are intricately linked to trees and forests. However, women tend to be ignored during the planning and implementation process of forestry activities.
In Kenya local community support is still being hampered by the slow attitudinal change on the part of the policing personnel who in some cases have been involved in fatal confrontation with local community user groups. In general, despite all these measures, local attitudes towards forest management institutions are manifested in suspicion, fear, and distrust. Therefore, illegal forest activities are on the increase and the remaining portions of primary forest will be degraded and converted to secondary forests.
In Malawi, there is a general lack of forest resources especially in the south where poverty and population densities are high. As such, the level of community economic benefits will always be minimal. However, also because poverty is high, even the small benefits coming from CBFRM projects, little as they are, will be significant in terms of capturing villagers' interest and transforming their attitudes and behaviour towards the forests in general.
In Zambia the high use of the forests by households adjacent to forests has been said to be destructive - for example using destructive methods to harvest wild foods and medicines.
Emerton (1999) noted that in Zambia and many other countries the impact of communities' collecting such products on a sustainable yield basis has not been much researched, and is largely unrecorded. Local communities in Zambia, therefore, have a large stake in forest management and in programs and policies that promote or restrict use of forests. This is especially critical for the poorest households. While the richer households account for a bigger proportion of the harvested forest products' volume, the poorest households are the worst victims of forest degradation or policies that might control use without providing significant alternative incomes.