Secondary forests could provide significant economic, social and economic benefits at all levels. Based on estimates of use from primary forests, the benefits range from over 5 per cent of GDP in forest-rich countries such as Ghana to under 0.5 per cent in forest-poor countries. But the contribution of forest goods and services to domestic and commercial sectors is more substantial than this. A wide range of forest products and services remain undocumented and unaccounted for in national development books. Forest management continues to emphasize wood production. However, many countries have recognized the role of forests in the informal sector trade (meeting social needs for health, food and general livelihood security), conservation of biodiversity, and environmental services (soil and water conservation, carbon sequestration and mitigation of global warming). Forests and forests products also support agriculture and food production directly and indirectly. Forest foods range from wild plant-based fruits, leaves, oils, tubers and rhizomes to mushrooms, insects particularly termites, and caterpillars and bush meat. While some of these provide simple supplementation to travelers and herders, some constitute delicacies with growing market potentials in rural and urban areas. The contribution of non-wood products to national economies is also gaining marked recognition at all levels. Enclaves of sacred forests provide unique socio-cultural values including traditional ceremonies, cleansing, retreats and healing sessions. Some countries have initiated development and exploitation of forest-based eco-tourism enterprises and consumptive use of wildlife resources. In dry forest areas and wetlands, forests provide valuable dry season grazing pastures for livestock and wildlife. Such services remain ignored by planners.
Productivity of these products and prospects for their sustainable production have received virtually no research or management attention, despite their growing potential for supporting development.