Community-based natural resource governance has taken root around the globe. And, yet, as demonstrated by community forestry in Nepal, such programmes have generally not yet lived up to their goals and expectations. After decades of implementation, community forestry in Nepal faces several key challenges. Central to these challenges are: the need to increase equity in community forest user group decision making and benefit sharing; and, to increase the livelihood benefits from community forestry overall. The research project on which this study is based sought to address these challenges at the community forest user group scale. The research objective was to contribute empirically-based insights regarding if and how adaptive collaborative governance of community forests in Nepal can constructively influence engagement, livelihoods, social capital and conflict—especially in regard to women and the poor. Further, the research aimed to elucidate the underlying issue of power in community-based natural resource governance. In particular, it sought to contribute deeper, theoretically-based understanding of the persistence of power imbalances in community forestry, and of the potential of adaptive collaborative governance to shift such imbalances.