trees from below in shadow

A timeline to success: forest benefit sharing agreements in Gabon

It all starts with a law…

The new Forest Code of 2001 mentions benefit sharing (Article 251), but does not give details on how it should happen in practice. Civil society in Gabon decided to make it a reality with the support of ClientEarth.

forest with lake and blue sky

January 16, 2001 – To start with, ClientEarth put together a consolidation of the Forest Code, so that all laws regarding the management of forests in Gabon were in the same place

…and people who want to make it work

ClientEarth starts working with civil society representatives in Gabon to support forest governance processes. ClientEarth’s work in Gabon is supported by In-country Associates Cécile Chantal Ott, Léonard Sossoukpe, Martial Djinang and Grace Ollomo.

people in gabon posing for a photo

November 1, 2012 – Here, a group picture with civil society representatives and Law and Policy Advisor Eugenio Sartoretto. Photo copyright: FERN

Civil society get together

In Gabon, a civil society platform called ‘Gabon, Ma Terre, Mon Droit’ works on addressing forest governance issues. A legal working group formed of members of civil society and supported by ClientEarth is created in order to provide legal technical support to the platform.

Logo of civil society working group

December 1, 2012 – The civil society platform’s logo. Photo copyright: Gabon Ma Terre, Mon droit.

The legal working group meets regularly

The legal working group is composed of engaged individuals from civil society who received legal training from ClientEarth – they meet several times a month.

people in Gabon meeting and discussing law

June 1, 2013 – May 3, 2016 – A legal working group meeting in Libreville. Photo copyright: ClientEarth

A workshop to bring everyone together

The Government promises a new decree on benefit sharing based on the recommendations of NGOs and private sector representatives.

Gabon government meeting with NGOs

The framework for benefit sharing is reinforced

Arrêté 105/2014 is signed by the Minister of Forestry, Noel Nelson Messone. This legal text partly based on inputs from the Legal Working Group proposes a model for Benefit Sharing Agreements (BSAs).

Text of benefit sharing forest law

May 6, 2014 – Click to read the full Arrêté (text in French)

Legal change comes with hard work

After the signature of the new Arrêté, the legal working group meets regularly, reviewing existing forest laws and inputting into new ones.

Forest code document

May 7, 2014 – December 1, 2014 – Members of civil society use the consolidation of the Forest Code made by ClientEarth

Guidance from the legal working group

The legal working group works on a guidance document to explain how to make Benefit Sharing Agreements work, step by step.

Meeting of legal working group around desk projector

September 8, 2014 – September 9, 2014 – A legal working group meeting in Libreville. Photo copyright: Leonard Sossoukpe

Supporting the implementation

September 25, 2014 – ClientEarth organises a workshop to explain the implications of the new arrêté for forest communities and timber companies.

In this video, Gabonese partners comment on the work accomplished on the issue of benefit sharing.

Benefit sharing 101

March 31, 2015 – The civil society platform validates the technical guide written by the legal working group. It will be used by trained consultants for field testing over the summer.

A scoping mission is organised to support the signature of benefit sharing agreements

August 1, 2015 – September 17, 2015 – A field mission is carried out in Ogooué-Ivindo to support the implementation of benefit sharing agreements. This mission helps evaluate how useful the technical guide is and see if it could be improved. It is an opportunity for Grace and Martial, the consultants chosen and trained to carry out this mission, to meet forest concession holders as well as local communities and local authorities.

Ogooué-Ivindo is in the North of Gabon, a densely forested area.


The first two Benefit Sharing Agreements are signed. Thanks to them, local communities from Ogooué-Ivindo, in the north of Gabon, will benefit from forest revenues thanks to clarified rules.

Signing forest laws

September 18, 2015: A benefit sharing agreement is being signed in Makokou, Northern Gabon. Photo copyright: Grace Ollomo

A workshop is organised to share experiences

Civil society presents the lessons learnt from the field testing of the implementation guide to members of the Gabonese administration and forest concession holders. Together, they decide to amend its contents – to build on the results of the testing and to include various stakeholder’s proposals.

Newspaper clipping from Gabon

December 23, 2015 – L’Union covered the event. Photo copyright: L’Union Gabonese newspaper

A new scoping mission to support the signature of more benefit sharing agreements is launched

March 6, 2016 – March 12, 2016 – Grace Ollomo, ClientEarth’s in-country associate, supports the negotiation of new benefit sharing agreements  – meetings with Ogooué-Ivindo communities, forest concession holders, and local authorities.

The Guide is officially endorsed by the Ministry of Forests

May 3, 2016 – After an inclusive drafting and testing process, the Technical Guide is endorsed by the Ministry of Forests during a national validation workshop. The guide is recognised as being a useful implementation tool for benefit sharing agreements by the Gabonese administation.


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