Women smallholder farmers in Kenya. Photo credit: McKay Savage/Wikimedia Commons


In Africa, unlike in most other world regions where wood- and forest-based products already are significant components in national and local economies, promotion of the role of forests and trees in enhancing the economic welfare of nations and of the livelihoods of rural populations is highly critical and hold a great potential. Today, the situation in the wood- and NWFP-based production sectors is characterized by: non-sustainable practices; poorly developed value addition, industries and product improvement facilities; and, defunct transport, trade and market infrastructures. Around 80% of wood removals are still used for charcoal/firewood, a fair share illegally felled and traded and most falling outside formal economic sectors. At the same time, the potential today for an economic and sustainable expansion of the forest and tree based products, not least for rural communities and farmers, is enormous. Demand for various forest products is rapidly increasing as a result of expanding purchasing power of growing urban middle classes, the potential for interregional and international trade is significant, and the transport infrastructure is being improved throughout much of Africa.

Delineation and goal of AFF’s work

In this thematic area, AFF, with appropriate partners, will work on all relevant aspects of economic production of wood- and non-wood-based forest and tree products, cost-benefit analyses of such products, product development, value-adding and small-and medium scale forest industries, economic opportunities for communities and rural people, understanding value chains and consumer demands and preferences, and local, national, regional and international trade issues and opportunities related to forest/tree products.

The overall goal is to identify and promote opportunities for economic development and poverty eradication based on forest and tree products.

Examples of subjects, challenges and opportunities to be addressed

Sustainable supply of sufficient good quality forest products; e.g. strengthening participation of the private sector, local communities and other stakeholders in primary and secondary forest production; promoting Public-Private-Partnership and entrepreneurship development in forestry; better bioenergy – firewood, charcoal and liquid biofuels; trade and marketing in forest products and services; value addition and value chain analyses on forest products and services, including NTFPs.

Livelihood improvement opportunities; e.g. understanding socio-economic impacts of forest products, services and trade; identifying employment and income opportunities for all; livelihood support through forests and trees to other sectors (agriculture, livestock development and eco-tourism).

Contribution to national incomes, poverty, eradication and attainment of SDGs e.g. better valuation of forest benefits and their contribution at all levels

Examples of ongoing and/or concluded AFF activities that fall under this area

  • On-going: in order to better understand the private sector in forestry, AFF has initiated studies in 22 African countries on different partnership arrangements in both primary and secondary private sector operations in forestry, and also assessing private-publicpartnerships initiatives.
  • Maisharou, A. & M. Larwanou, 2015. Market potential of non-wood forest products in the Sahelian countries. In International Forestry Review Vol.17 (S3).
  • Chipeta, M.E. & G. Kowero, 2015. An overview of intra-African trade in forest products: opportunities and challenges. In International Forestry Review Vol.17 (S3).
  • Popoola, L., Larwanou, M. & S.O. Jimoh, 2015. Biofuel initiatives in West Africa and the Sahel: potential for success. In International Forestry Review Vol.17 (S3).
  • Popoola, L., 2014. Cross-border trade in forest products and services and trade impacts in West Africa. AFF Working Paper Vol 2 (8).
  • Tieguhong, J.C., Ndoye, O., Tchatat, M. & and B. Chikamai, 2009. Processing and marketing of non-wood forest products: potential impacts and challenges in Africa. In Discovery and Innovation Vol 21 (1).
  • Asumadu, K., 2004. Development of wood-based industries in Sub-Saharan Africa. A report from the KSLA/AFORNET/FAO project Lessons Learnt on SFM in Africa.