Europe has a wealth of community forest arrangements. This paper aims to transcend the diversity of locally specific terms and forms, to highlight the value of considering them inclusively. Building on methods to make sense of diversity, we use reflexive grounded inquiry in fifteen cases in Italy, Scotland, Slovenia and Sweden. Within four dimensions (forest, community, relationships between them, and relationships with wider society), we identify 43 subdimensions to describe them collectively. Our approach shows how European arrangements contribute to wider discourses of collective natural resource management. Both tradition and innovation in Europe inform options for environmental governance. Arrangements challenge the distinction between ‘communities of place’ and ‘communities of interest’, with implications for social and environmental justice. They exemplify multilevel environmental governance through both vertical and horizontal connections. Emerging from long histories of political and environmental pressures, they have a role in enhancing society’s connection with nature and adaptive capacity.