This paper argues that forestry coverage is limited within most Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers. There is also little exploration of the links between poverty reduction strategies and sector processes, such as national forest programmes. It is therefore unlikely that forestry issues will appear high on the national political agenda, which is now much influenced by the poverty reduction debate. This may affect budgetary allocations to the sector, and reduce the opportunities for cross-sectoral coordination. The contribution that forestry can make to poverty reduction has to be better understood and then communicated effectively in national policy circles. Sustainable forest management can probably play only a minor role in a growth-orientated, nationally accountable poverty reduction strategy. Yet through tenurial reform forests have the potential to provide significant, long lasting benefits for the rural poor.