Under the right conditions, locally controlled forestry (LCF) can be a strong contributor to local livelihoods, forest protection and sustainable and equitable development. Creating the right conditions, however, needs the right sort of investment. A series of dialogues organised by The Forests Dialogue (TFD) between 2009 and 2012 on ‘investing in locally controlled forestry’ (ILCF) was designed to help catalyse investments in LCF by sharing learning between rights-holder groups and investors; improving mutual trust based on an agreed investment framework; and identifying practical ways forward. Instigated by the Growing Forest Partnerships (GFP) initiative and the TFD Steering Committee, the dialogue series (referred to hereafter as the ILCF initiative) involved 10 dialogues and over 400 participants from local rights-holder groups, the investment community, donors and non-governmental organisations from over 60 countries. TFD worked closely with three major rights-holder alliances representing Indigenous Peoples’ forestry, community forestry and family forestry in developing and implementing the initiative. This report outlines the development and key conclusions of the ILCF initiative and reviews its outcomes in the form of gaps, catalytic actions to address them and indicating ways forward. It is complemented by two companion documents, ‘Guide to investing in locally controlled forestry’ (Elson, in press), and ‘Investing in locally controlled forestry—natural protection for people and planet’ (Macqueen et al. 2012b) which also have their origins in the ILCF initiative, as well as the co-chairs’ summaries, which distill the main takeaway messages from each dialogue from the co-chairs’ perspectives.