Joint Forest Management approach in India has had limited success in furthering goals of sustainable forest management. Key problems include poor state accountability, power differentials between state agencies and local communities, as well as within communities that lead to further marginalization of certain forest users, especially women. The challenge remains to design creative institutional arrangements that address power inequality issues as well as facilitate a more inclusive, pluralistic and democratic governance of forests. This research will focus on how forest communities in Orissa address this challenge. Selfinitiated community forestry groups in Orissa have federated in form of loose alliances. This research will seek to understand: 1) the conditions that lead to emergence of community forestry federations and their emergent dynamics; 2) the role of community forestry federations in bridging the power imbalances between the state and local forest users; 3) the role of federations and alternate institutions in addressing power asymmetries at the community level and accommodating plural perspectives. The research will use complementary theoretical and methodological approaches and qualitative research methods to analyze the emergence of community forestry federations in Orissa and investigate their role in furthering democratic governance of forests.