Many studies have suggested various kinds of forest policies, management planning and practices to help forests adapt to climate change. These recommendations are often generic, based mostly on case studies from temperate countries and rarely from Africa. We argue that policy and management recommendations aimed at integrating adaptation into national forest policies and practices in Africa should start with an inventory and careful examination of existing policies and practices in order to understand the nature and extent of intervention required to influence the adaptation of forest ecosystems to climate change. This paper aims to contribute to closing this gap in knowledge detrimental to decision making through the review and analysis of current forest policies and practices in Burkina Faso and Ghana and highlighting elements that have the potential to influence the adaptation of forest ecosystems to climate change. The analysis revealed that adaptation (and mitigation) are not part of current forest policies in Burkina Faso and Ghana, but instead policies contain elements of risk management practices which are also relevant to the adaptation of forest ecosystems. Some of these elements are found in policies on the management of forest fires, forest genetic resources, non-timber resources, tree regeneration and silvicultural practices. To facilitate and enhance the management of these elements, a number of recommendations are suggested. Their implementation will require experienced and well-trained forestry personnel, financial resources, socio-cultural and political dimensions, and the political will of decision makers to act appropriately by formulating necessary policies and mainstreaming adaptation into forest policy and management planning.