The majority of Sub-Saharan Africa's population relies on forest products for subsistence uses, cash income, or both. In the case of non-timber forest products (NTFPs), it is imperative to 1) clearly understand the socio-economic contributions that they make to rural livelihoods in order to 2) design policies, interventions, and business ventures that serve to safeguard forest assets for the poor in a targeted manner. Based on existing literature, this article highlights the quantitative contributions that NTFPs have made to rural household incomes in several forested, Sub-Saharan African countries. Reasons for a paucity of data on this front are discussed. The article then identifies five broad socioeconomic factors (location, wealth status, gender, education, and seasonality) affecting levels of dependency on NTFPs by rural households, and calls for a better understanding of the linkages between these five factors in order for targeted policies on poverty alleviation in forest-dependent communities to be developed.
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Vol. 12 • No. 3