Following the 1998 National Forest Policy and Forest Act of 2002, participatory forest management (PFM) is being introduced in Tanzania. PFM has two key objectives: to reduce forest degradation thereby increasing ecosystem services, and to improve the livelihoods of local villagers. A unique data set collected in 2006 suggests that significant challenges remain with respect to communicating the new forest policies if the objectives of PFM are to be achieved. First, villagers as a group are much less well informed than other stakeholders, and their knowledge is often inaccurate. Second, women are less likely than men to have heard of the changes. Third, how PFM will contribute to poverty reduction (a key objective of PFM) is not always clear. Fourth, environmental degradation may not be reduced as much as anticipated – without alternatives sources, villagers often continue to cut trees for charcoal and firewood in the protected forests. Finally, several mismatches in perceptions are identified that could lead to difficulties in implementing PFM.