Provides a brief account of the development of the Joint Forest Management Scheme in India, especially in West Bengal, the state where joint forest management has been most widely adopted and which provided the genesis of the scheme that was adopted as part of India’s Forest Policy 1988. The development, nature of and rationale for the scheme are discussed. Results to a survey of household heads in villages in the neighbourhood of state forests in the Midnapore region of West Bengal are reported. The survey provides information about the dependence of villagers on forest resources, the sustainability of current forest use as perceived by villagers, and reports their views about forest management issues, including the Joint Forest Management Scheme. The concerns of villagers about joint forest management are identified and analysed. It is suggested that some writers have been too ready to promote the sustainability and social welfare benefits of joint forest management as now practiced. Some of its important limitations are identified. While it is preferable to open-access, the system in India is as yet deficient in terms of communal and social management.