AbstraksiIndonesia's development agenda under president Joko Widodo 's tenure, manifested through NAWACITA, has been focusing on economic development outside Java, especially the eastern parts of Indonesia. His strategies to address regional disparity aim to accelerate growth and development based on the specific characteristics of regions. In Eastern Indonesia, one of the most notable characteristics is the abundance of forest which was one major reason why the President allocated approximately 12 million hectares of forests for social forestry in late 2016. Technically, social forestry is deemed an effective instrument not only to alleviate poverty, but also to reduce deforestation. This paper employs a systematic literature review on previous studies on social forestry in the global south to provide in-depth understandings on the potential benefits and challenges social forestry may pose to local communities. The findings show that while social forestry could serve as new source of income through the subsistence use and sales of timber and non-timber forest products, the benefits might not be distributed fairly among those involved. Social forestry can even enhance the exclusion of marginalized and vulnerable groups due to factors such as intra-community and intra-household power imbalance. Further, it was found that capacity is lacking to translate and implement the programs on the ground. Therefore, it calls for more robust social forestry designs that consider social dynamics and equity factors as well as strengthen local capacity to ensure effectiveness and sustainability of the programs.