Dry forest and woodlands cover 54% of Africa and support 64% of its people with a wide range of environmental goods and services. Despite their importance, particularly for tackling climate change and food insecurity, these forests are disappearing at an alarming rate. In response to these challenges (and opportunities), CIFOR, in association with its partners and key stakeholders, convened a Dry Forests Symposium on 1 December 2011 alongside the UNFCCC Conference of the Parties in Durban, South Africa. Edmund Barrow, from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), gave this presentation as a keynote address at the symposium. Barrow has worked in Africa for over 35 years. His work is increasingly focused on the links between people's livelihoods and their natural environments, demonstrating the importance of environmental assets at different levels.