Over recent years, extensive tree plantations have emerged as a significant land use in a number of regions across Australia. While trees have the potential to contribute to the mitigation of a range of environmental problems, such as soil salinity and erosion, there are growing concerns that large-scale plantations can have negative economic, social and environmental impacts. Drawing on evidence from Australia and overseas, this paper provides an overview of the implications of the plantation industry for rural communities. It examines issues such as the impact of plantation forestry on local and regional demographic structures, employment patterns, infrastructure and services, land use planning and the land economy. The paper concludes by suggesting that careful planning by federal, state and local governments is required if the benefits of planting trees on farms are to outweigh the negative social, economic and environmental impacts of extensive plantations.