The aim of this study was to determine the changes in forest carbon in three village forests in Tanzania during 2009–2012 using participatory forest carbon assessment, and to evaluate the capability of the local communities to undertake the assessment, and the costs involved. The results show that forest degradation is caused not only by disturbance as a result of anthropogenic activities; other causes include natural mortality of small trees as a result of canopy closure, and the attraction of wild animals to closed-canopy forests. Thus, mechanisms are required to compensate communities for carbon loss that is beyond their control. However, an increase in the abundance of elephants Loxodonta africana and other fauna should not be considered negatively by local communities and other stakeholders, and the importance of improved biodiversity in the context of carbon stocks should be emphasized by those promoting REDD+ (Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation). This case study also shows that the cost per ha of USD < 1 for participatory forest carbon assessment is less than that reported for Tanzania and elsewhere (USD 3–5); this is attributed to the large area of forest studied. However, the cost of data analysis and reporting in 2012 (USD 4,519) was significantly higher than the baseline cost (USD 1,793) established in 2009 because of the involvement of external experts.