This study assesses the current mode of forest use and management at rural community level in South Africa with a view to locating space for forest-based green growth initiatives development and factors that might shape the uptake of such initiatives. This was done with respect to the need to decouple rural livelihood activities from forest degradation. Vegetation type was used as a criterion to select three municipalities (Makhado, Mutale, and Thulamela) in Vhembe District. Seven rural communities in each municipality were selected giving a total of 21 rural communities. Using stratified proportionate random sampling procedure, a total of 366 households were selected and interviewed. Findings showed that the informal forest sector is best positioned for immediate delivery of green growth benefits to the local communities. Firewood and wild edible insect (mopane worms) were identified as the priority products for forest green growth initiative uptake. However, issues relating to skill and technical capacity were identified as a barrier to the uptake of green growth initiatives in the communities. The study thus recommends capacity enhancement initiatives and forest establishment programmes such as afforestation and reforestation as a means of facilitating forest green growth uptake and delivery of green growth benefits to the study communities.