Forests in the North-West Frontier Province of Pakistan are under heavy pressure. Often, local people are blamed in this regard for their exploitative resource use. The present paper, however, searches for an understanding of the ongoing processes by analysing the livelihood strategies and daily practices of representatives of the local state and donor project experts. Insights show that policy formulation at the provincial capital is not implemented in a functionalist manner at lower levels of the administration. Instead, many processes and acts of translation within the wider context of livelihood strategies take place along the actual practice (rather than the discourse) of policy formulation and implementation through the various scales from the head offices of donors in the North to the provincial capital in the South, to the regional centres and, finally, to the forests in the Hindukush–Himalayan mountains.