In the Congo Basin region, sustainable management of forests and protected areas is mostly biodiversity oriented while little is known about governance effectiveness of such forest resources, especially in Gabon. This paper assesses available policy, legislations and institutions to enhance the management of Gabonese forests and National Parks resources. Data was gathered through systematic review of literature and policies and face to face interviews of experts in three key institutions. National Parks represent a restrictive conservation strategy adopted by the Gabonese government. Resource harvesting and gathering is prohibited in National Parks boundaries. Identified issues include; little participation of the local communities in forest resource management and poor benefits redistribution among stakeholders. The current policy framework promotes strongly the economic development of the timber sector and biodiversity protection than the rights and livelihoods security of local communities. Several institutions are involved in resources management but their mandates over biodiversity protection tend to overlap, providing possible obstacles to their efficient performance. The establishment of a new type of institutional arrangement for protected areas which would integrate biodiversity protection and secure local people’s livelihoods is therefore needful. Institutional collaboration and communication among these institutions should also be encouraged to avoid the overlap of their mandates.
Key words: National Parks, forests, governance effectiveness, policy, legislations, resources management, Gabon.