The Rimba Raya Biodiversity Reserve is a private sector REDD+ project (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) in Central Kalimantan in Indonesia. Karandang is one of nine villages close to the conservation area, and they were initially negative to the project. The people in Karandang have experienced dramatic environmental and social change in a few years, connected to three external projects competing over control of the forest surrounding the village. Due to logging, conservation and conversion to palm oil plantations, individuals in Karandang have experienced exclusion, persecution and marginalization, resulting in decreased flexibility for adapting to change. Disputes over land with the palm oil companies are frequent, and while many have taken on wage work in the plantations, there is resentment that most of the profits from the production leaves Kalimantan. This is the context within which they interpret Rimba Raya. There is a risk that the Rimba Raya project will intensify pressure on land, and villagers in Karandang remain sceptical. Discussions about Rimba Raya are dominated by fear of exclusion and lack of accountability. The project proponents are perceived as outsiders, and integrated into a narrative of historical exploitation and corruption. The Rimba Raya facilitator tries to respect local decision-making traditions, personified in the Village Head, but his role is also contested. At the interface between project and village power and knowledge is negotiated with sometimes unexpected results. In the midst of allegations and intrigues, there are attempts at negotiating the project and ensuring full and effective participation of the community. Women are severely under-represented in the project discussion. However, there are careful hopes that the project may strengthen the village economy, and their position vis-à-vis the palm oil companies.