Community forestry has been described as a decentralised mode of forest governance that only partly lives up to its expectations. The power of important actors to misuse the community forestry approach for their self-interests has been reported as a major obstacle to comprehensive success. Hence, this article aims at developing an analytical, theory-based and empirically applicable framework for assessing an actor's power using community forestry as an illustrative case. The actor-centred power approach (ACP) analysis aims to provide a scientific answer to the question of who are the politically most powerful actors in community forestry practices. In making use of suitable components of power theories it builds strongly upon the social relations of actors, organisational aspects and power sources, as described by Weber, Dahl, Etzioni and their adherents. Actor-centred power approach (ACP) is defined as a social relationship in which actor A alters the behaviour of actor B without recognising B's will. In our framework we distinguish between three core elements: coercion, (dis-)incentives and dominant information. These make up the basis for observable facts that involve not only physical actions but also threats by power elements and the very sources of said power elements. Theoretical considerations show that, despite the focus being on actors, by looking to their power sources a considerable part of structural power can be more tangible at least in part, like rules, discourse or ideologies. Furthermore, the paper shows how the actor-centred power approach distinguishes power from other influences on forest management and contributes to the identification of the group of powerful actors on an empirical basis. Due to the focus on actors and well-defined and observable elements of power, the actor-centred power approach (ACP) could serve not only as a basis for research but also as a tool for quick assessment of power networks, delivering valuable preliminary information for designing forest policy in practice.