This paper investigates if and how the establishment of private commercial forest plantations in degraded forest reserves can conserve natural forests in Uganda. It uses difference-in-difference and decomposition analyses on household data collected from intervention and control villages in the neighborhood of forest reserves. We find that commercial forest plantations are weakly effective in conserving natural forests. The reduction in forest use is unevenly distributed across households depending on location and resource endowments such as farmland and livestock. The results suggest that the conservation effectiveness can be enhanced by complementary interventions that change characteristics that reduce forest use, such as more education for forest users.