As neoliberalism continues to influence environmental governance, it affects notions about the appropriate level of community involvement in resource management. Under more recent iterations, hybrid forms of governance are emphasized, including government–civil society partnerships and approaches geared towards harnessing the strengths of local communities. Here we explore the characteristics of different resource management rights, strategies, and tools through which communities can find political space to assert their own agendas within a neoliberalized policy environment. We examine the successful use of some of these approaches by communities during the initial development of community forests policy and practice in British Columbia, Canada. While we confirm the complex, contingent and case-specific nature of opportunities for comanagement created through neoliberal policy elements, we suggest that space does exist for community forest bodies to assert local values, goals and strategies, demonstrating the creativity, ingenuity and determination of communities to attain a real voice in management.