Since the 1960s, Karen highlanders have faced significant development pressures within the Thai nation-state: sedentarization, privatization of land system tenure without official title deeds, development of commercial agriculture, prohibition on clearing new crops as the population grows and protected forest areas expand. This process has been accompanied by an increasing penetration of foreign agents driving polarized development approaches into the village political sphere. On the one hand, activist NGOs tend to value sustainable development based on "local knowledge", self-sustaining economy while providing tools for challenging land rights and promote ethnic identity within the Thai civil society. On the other hand, government officials tend to encourage commercial agriculture, the use of chemicals and empowerment through allegiance to national symbols and access to market economy. Based on an anthropological survey in a Karen village in Northern Thailand, this paper highlights the individual and collective resilience strategies developed by villagers at the interface of competitive and sometime antagonist development networks. It shows how, at an individual or household level, villagers combine differential strategies of subsistence and political alliance to benefit economic opportunities and minimize risks: debt, migration to cities, arrestation for illegal logging, etc. And how, at a collective level, villagers have to negotiate rules over the management of common territorial resources in order to limit ecological degradation and secure their uncertain living in national protected forest areas.