A workshop was held for agricultural extension workers and catchment technicians employed by the Community Forestry and Soil Conservation Development Department in eastern Ethiopia. The aim of the workshop was to allow the employees at the grassroots level of the department to identify the constraints in the department's forestry and soil conservation activities and to suggest possible solutions to encourage sustainability in the future. This brief article describes a ranking exercise which was carried out by the workshop participants to identify the constraints which they felt most hindered the success of the community forestry and soil conservation programme. Both groups felt that the area in which most improvement was needed was in enabling better participation by farmers. The exercise demonstrated that ranking by extension workers to assess their own programmes is a useful application of the technique.