The international debates on REDD+ and the expectations to receive results-based payments through international climate finance have triggered considerable political efforts to address deforestation and forest degradation in many potential beneficiary countries. Whether a country will receive such REDD+ payments is largely contingent on its ability to effectively address the relevant drivers, and to govern the context-dependent agents and forces responsible for forest loss or degradation. Currently, many REDD+ countries are embarking on the necessary analytical steps for their national REDD+ strategies. In this context, a comprehensive understanding of drivers and their underlying causes is a fundamental prerequisite for developing effective policy responses. We developed a methodological framework for assessing the drivers and underlying causes of deforestation and use the Fako Division in Southern Cameroon as a case study to test this approach. The steps described in this paper can be adapted to other geographical contexts, and the results of such assessments can be used to inform policy makers and other stakeholders.