The management of natural resources is a challenging task owing to the complexity of the resources and the benefits they provide. Nowadays there is trend to transfer some management power to local communities driven by equality and sustainability assumptions. We studied two cases of local management – forests and fisheries – in Albania, which resulted in contrasting outcomes. In the forestry case, the local community manages its resource in a sustainable way based on its customary rules supporting equal shares to members and encouraging participation in decision making procedures for common issues. In contrast, the fishery case represents an example of overexploitation and information asymmetries, where powerful actors benefit over others. We argue that disregarding the local context when implementing new sets of rules can both exacerbate the unsustainable use of natural resources and have an impact on the social power structures.