This paper summarizes the main findings of "Communitarian forest management in Tropical America: Experiences, lessons and challenges for the future", jointly produced by a group of researchers closely related to CFM in Latin America. Local peoples and communities in rural Latin America are the traditional users of extended areas of forests. Due to the advance of the agricultural frontier and forest degradation for inappropriate use, CFM is seen as a promising option to get a double goal: improve human welfare of local populations, and conserve forests. In the way it is presently promoted, CFM is based on four keystones: legality, reduced impact practices, commercialization in non-local markets, and technical assistance and training. In spite of positive results related to legal and institutional frameworks and joining strategies, almost all the CFM projects confront serious challenges and depend upon external aid. The evident lack of connection between CFM and the actual conditions of local populations proves that forest use by communities requires a strong change of paradigm: externally defined models are to be abandoned, and strategies to help communities to develop their own ideas are to be promoted. So, instead of local stakeholders adapting themselves to CFM, CFM should be adapted to local interests and capacities.