This study examined rural peoples ’ intention to adopt sustainability practices in communally managed forests in Vhembe district, South Africa, using the theory of planned behavior as a conceptual framework. A total of 155 respondents were surveyed. The data was analyzed using structural equation modeling (SEM). The results showed that rural people have a strong intention to adopt sustainable forest-use and management practices. Out of the three constructs comprising the theory of planned behavior, subjective norm (SN) and attitude to behavior (AB) positively correlated with intention, with SN having the strongest influence on intention. Perceived behavioral control (PBC), which is the third construct, negatively correlated with intention. The study indicates that respondents ’
subjective belief about the approval or disapproval of sustainable forest
management (SFM) practices by other relevant people mainly influenced their intention to adopt or not adopt such practices. Thus, strategies and policies to enhance the sustainable management of communally owned forests in South Africa need to consider local actor contexts and sociocultural norms and values. In this regard, the engagement of influential people at the community level, and the demonstration of the short- and long-term benefits of sustainable forest use and management practices offer promising entry points.