Decentralization experiments are currently underway in the Chinese forestry sector. However, researchers and policy makers tend to ignore a key question: what do forest farmers really want from reform? This paper addresses this question using a survey-based choice experiment to investigate farmers' preferences for various property rights attributes of a forestland contract. We found that farmers are highly concerned with the types of rights provided by a contract. Reducing perceived risks of contract termination and introducing a priority right for the renewal of an existing contract significantly increases farmers' marginal willingness to pay for a forest contract.