According to AFDB, the current financial and economic crisis has directly and indirectly affected the drivers of Africa's recent growth performance. Demand for and prices of African commodities are falling, capital flows are declining and promised increased aid has not materialized. Through contagion, the crisis has affected financial markets foreign exchange markets and commodity markets- the last being of particular importance for forest products. In this article, examples from Cameroon and other countries are used to highlight the capacity of non wood forest products to provide employment income and sustenance in times of crisis-given a suitable legal framework to help safeguard local access and prevent resource depletion. This article can be found in the latest issue of Unasylva, (FAO journal of forestry and forest industries) in the HOORC Library.