Forests in Africa are important to livelihoods of rural communities, as habitats of wildlife, sources of genetic resources and for mitigation to climate change among many other uses. Africa’s area under forests is, however, declining at rates faster than those in other continents despite efforts to improve forest management by, for example, devolving ownership and management of some of these forests to local communities. This paper examines some of the root causes of this decline by specifically focusing on the forest-society and agriculture nexus as one of the key drivers of forest depletion on the continent. The paper also examines the influence of urbanisation and related policy shifts in Africa. The paper concludes that the rapid population increase has direct negative impact on forests and this is compounded by increasing poverty in rural areas that has increased reliance on forests as sources of food, medicines, agricultural land, in addition to forests supplying wood and other non-wood forest products for domestic consumption and industrial needs. The paper highlights an apparent link between deforestation and urbanization, and the potentials for African forests to contribute more to social and economic development and to mitigate adverse effects of climate change.