In regions where common pool resources provide significant support to their surrounding communities, any climate change related shock could produce multiple livelihood repercussions. In this paper, a model explores how the health of common pool resources could impact upon human capital outcomes for communities that struggle to find alternate livelihood options when traditional means such as agriculture become unsustainable. The management of common pool resources is modeled as a strategic interaction process between two heterogeneous communities that are directly or indirectly dependent upon it. An unconstrained harvesting of common resources such as forestry not only depletes its stocks, but it also indirectly affects crop output through soil degradation. A number of situations are constructed where communities are able to successfully finance human capital accumulation through proper management of their common pool resources. However, results also warn that communities that are faced with limited opportunities towards accumulating human capital must plan ahead to prevent the depletion of their common resources below critical levels. When non-linear feedbacks to soil degradation emanate from low levels of common pool stocks, human capital outcomes as well as future livelihoods of such communities are threatened. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.