Despite regional deforestation threats, the state of Quintana Roo has maintained over 80% of its territory in forests. Community forest management (CFM) has played a pivotal role in forest cover and biodiversity conservation in the region. In this article, we present the institutional, socioeconomic and environmental conditions under which community-based forest management has been consolidated in the tropical state of Quintana Roo, which occupies the eastern half of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. With a focus on management for timber and other market-based development strategies, we then examine the institutional and socioeconomic factors, as well as biophysical shocks, that have constrained community forestry development in the past 25 years, challenging its persistence. Following, we discuss how forest communities and institutions have responded and adapted to changing forest policies and markets as well as major environmental shocks from hurricanes and fires. CFM in Quintana Roo has shown resiliency since its institutionalization 30 years ago. Future challenges and opportunities include biodiversity conservation, carbon management through Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) initiatives, market strengthening, business management training as well as the implementation of alternative silvicultural systems, particularly to manage sustainable populations of commercial timber species.