The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry under-went a transition from a traditional industrial forestry agency to one that is responsive to community forestry needs. From the new perspective trees and forestland management are an integral part of community development in rural South Africa. To assist the transition, DWAF established a community forestry research network to stimulate research of benefit to poor communities. LTS provided a Participatory Forestry Specialist to facilitate a workshop to develop a national strategy for community forestry research within the DWAF programme. The worksop covered measures to improve networking and mechanisms for active community participation. Through a process of consultation and action research the work aims to identify and inform community needs and hence improve the implementation of future projects.