Great hopes have been placed on devolution policies as a means of attaining sustainable forest management in developing countries.
However, heavy dependence on forests by many rural households has led to forest degradation and deforestation, which undermine the success of such policies. This study contributes to the existing literature by exploring factors affecting perceived forest dependence and by introducing private forest ownership, i.e., forests cultivated on private land, into the analysis. The analysis was based on household cross-sectional survey data collected in the subsample areas of Njombe and Shinyanga, Tanzania. Ordered logit models were run to estimate the factors associated with perceived forest dependence. Findings show that private forest owners are associated with higher forest income shares than the non-private forest owners. Region dummy variable suggest that households in Njombe where private forestry is more reported are associated with a higher probability of perceiving themselves as highly forest dependents than those in Shinyanga. Household socio-economic characteristics are also found to correlate with households’ perceptions of their dependence on forests. The findings, thus, point to more research on the link between perceived forest dependence and conservation of forest resources in order to establish consolidated approaches to sustainably conserve communal and state forests. Concurrently, further studies on households’ ownership of forests on private lands are recommended.