This chapter introduces the purpose and organization of the text, which focuses on both historical developments and contemporary debates related to policy and governance of forests in varied tenure categories nationwide. Definitions of governance are provided and four tenure categories are introduced that are relevant to the book’s consideration of forest policy and governance dynamics: public lands, private lands, open-access lands, and commons. This is followed by an exploration of the lasting influence of John Locke’s theory of property and of Garrett Hardin’s misunderstanding of common property. The chapter also introduces four focusing concepts that will be utilized throughout the rest of the text: formal policies, informal practices, participation, and paradigms.