Aid encounters in three community forestry endeavours reveal different strategies of development cooperation. The first, intervention, is a unilaterally designed aid strategy where the external intervening party takes the lead, sets goals, draws up plans, etc. The second, facilitation, is a mutually designed strategy of cooperation which focuses on collective action and mutual learning. The third, encouragement of self-development, is a unilaterally designed strategy where local actors take the lead in development endeavours. This article analyses these three distinctive strategies with reference to social, discursive, political and performative practices found in development cooperation. This provides an integrated framework for assessing local community situations which could guide strategic decisions and promote effective development cooperation.