Located in Dahomey Gap and devoid of forest massifs, Benin nevertheless abounds with forest fragments essentially made up of sacred forests. There are more than 3000. These sacred forests were preserved for a long time thanks to endogenous knowledge. Formerly this traditional mode of governance, based on endogenous beliefs, was so effective that the first measures to defend forest areas, following the work of Aubreville (1937), did not take sacred forests into account. Over time, the strong degradation of forests sacred has shown the limits of these management methods and the need to find other mechanisms to protect these forest areas. Thus, since 2010 a new model of governance of these forests, involving the forest administration, is being tested. The study focused on the analysis of the success factors of traditional modes of governance of sacred forests in Benin in order to justify the choices of s principles that should support the new management methods currently being tested. The analysis, based on the framework of analysis of self-managed and self-governing common resources proposed by Ostrom (1990), showed that the success of the traditional mode of governance of sacred forests was fundamentally based on the effectiveness of its system of sanctions. And this efficiency of the sanctions system is due to the fact that traditional religions were for a long time the only spiritual benchmark. This result suggests that to be effective, the new structures for the co-management of sacred forests should be provided with material and legal means to enforce the established rules.