Community-based forest management (CBFM) is an approach that involves small-scale community owned and managed forestry that is drawing serious attention for its applicability to achieving sustainable forest practices. In this paper, I research the question: What factors explain the success and failure of CBFM in developing countries? Thirty-four case studies of CBFM in 14 developing countries were reviewed and statistically analyzed. A total of 47 independent factors were found to significantly influence the outcome (success or failure) of these CBFM experiments, of which the most important determinants of success were: the comprehensiveness and objectives of the management plan, land tenure, ownership and property rights, types of support, participation (in particular that of women), perceptions (project confidence, perceived tangible benefits, social capitol, environmental concern, and equality between community members), agricultural and land management systems used (use of agroforestry techniques, rehabilitation of degraded lands), national community based forest management policy, community governance and law, socio-economic attributes, and the degree of decentralization. These factors were then used to develop steps to sustainable forestry success as a guide to the initiation and development of successful community based forest management in developing countries.