The paper presents the state of forests in sub-Saharan African (SSA)countries, salient factors leading to forest loss, the influence of mitigating measures being adopted, and an assessment of the community based forest management systems(CBFM). The study reveals that a number of promising CBFM constructs have been tried and more are being implemented in the region. Implementation progress shows that virtually all countries have enacted supportive policies, legislations, institutional instruments and reforms. Notable trajectories contributing to sustainable forest management, with prospects for enhancing social justice, economic, environmental, social institutions and human capital, are noted. Bottlenecks stifling CBFM’s growth, particularly those associated with conflicts, challenges, constraints and threats are examined. In a final chapter, the paper recommends a need to establish an inclusive platform to guide institutional reforms and to mount a comprehensive research programme. 
Key words: CBFM: Paradigm shift forest management Africa, community based forest management, participatory, institutional arrangement, Africa