In parts of the developing world deforestation rates are high and poverty is chronic and pervasive. Addressing these issues through the commercialization of Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) has been widely researched, tested and discussed. While the evidence is inconclusive, there is growing understanding of what works and why and this paper examines the acknowledged success and failure factors. African forest honey has been relatively overlooked as an NTFP, an oversight this paper addresses. Drawing on evidence from a long-established forest conservation, livelihoods and trade development initiative in SW Ethiopia, forest honey is benchmarked against accepted success and failure factors and is found to be a near-perfect NTFP. The criteria are primarily focused on livelihood impacts and consequently this paper makes recommendations for additional criteria directly related to forest maintenance.