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Dry forests provide fodder, fuel, medicines, income and building materials. They also restore soil fertility, sequester carbon, and prevent erosion and desertification. Recently overharvesting of the dry forests in Africa has been gaining attention because of its perceived connection with the food crisis in the Horn of Africa. Former CIFOR Principal Scientist Tony Cunningham believes that much could be learned from comparing and contrasting the dry forests of Africa with better-understood dry forests elsewhere (such as those in India). He explores the opportunities for global comparative dry forest research in this keynote address for the First Conference on Managing Non-Wood Forest Products for Sustained Livelihood, held in Bhopal, India on 17–19 December 2011.