Historically, social forestry is Indonesia's national priority for rural development and poverty alleviation in areas surrounding forests. The opportunities and challenges in expanding - designing and implementing - social forestry schemes are highly contextual and varied across Indonesia. This paper aims to review Indonesian literature on opportunities and challenges of various social forestry schemes and identify the lessons to promote social forestry schemes from economic, environmental, institutional, and social perspectives. We found heterogeneous performances of social forestry schemes across three Indonesian regions – Sumatra and Kalimantan; Java; and Sulawesi, Bali and Nusa Tenggara. Current social forestry literature mainly focuses on western regions of Indonesia (i.e., Java, Sumatra and Kalimantan) and most studies discuss social forestry from social and economic perspectives but not from environmental perspectives. Economic opportunity is the main benefit of social forestry implementation, while social and environmental challenges seem to be the major implementation barriers. Moreover, opportunities and challenges of social forestry implementation are not consistently highlighted in all studies. These findings are useful for improving future planning and practice of social forestry schemes to enhance their effectiveness for rural development and poverty alleviation in Indonesia.