Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, the sustainable management of forests and the conservation and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries ('REDD+') aims to improve local livelihoods and conserve plant diversity while limiting carbon emissions. Yet trade-offs and synergies that exist between supporting livelihoods, protecting plant diversity and maintaining forest ecosystem services are poorly documented. We used forest inventory data and community-group records to assess trade-offs and synergies between carbon, plant diversity and forest products in 19 community forests managed under REDD+ in Nepal. Trade-offs were prevalent for carbon, whereby community forests with relatively high carbon values had relatively low values for plant diversity or forest products provision, and vice versa. Synergies occurred between plant diversity and forest products provision (fuelwood and fodder), suggesting that forests with relatively high plant diversity values were also important for providing critical forest products to local communities. This study shows that conserving forests for carbon should not impinge greatly on the flow of forest resources to at least some local communities; however, promoting carbon storage will not necessarily protect plant diversity. These findings should help guide future REDD+ policy for community forests.