Failures of governance underlay many problems in natural resource management. Insitu conservation strategies, such as forest protected areas (FPAs), are currently one of the main strategies for forest and terrestrial biodiversity conservation. Nevertheless, there is no clear evidence in the current literature on the exact role of governance arrangements and cause-effect relationships between decision-making style and conservation outcomes of forest protected areas. Governance theory deals with the inquiry of how decisions are made and how decisions are implemented given the existing institutional frame and interactions of different actors. This work aims to clarify the role of governance, its diversity, quality and change, in the functioning of forest protected areas to deliver the desired social and ecological outcomes. Accordingly, the dissertation has three specific objectives: 1) to characterise and collate an evidence base on the role of governance in forest protected areas and their conservation outcomes globally; 2) to analyse potential for a shift from hierarchical to collaborative governance in a case example of tiger conservation; and 3) to evaluate inclusive policies and their implementation through state-driven decentralization programmes on the ground. This work applies a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods, including systematic review methodology, qualitative data analysis and quantitative impact assessment. The first part of the dissertation (Chapter 2) collates the evidence on conservation success of FPAs conditional on the type of their governance. This chapter explores protected areas globally and synthesizes the published literature up-to-today to create a global map of the evidence and knowledge base on the role of governance in the conservation effectiveness of protected areas with respect to social and ecological outcomes. The current evidence base is small and fragmented with the low explanatory power and methodological weaknesses. Conservation research often does not account for local governance elements while making judgement on conservation success. In case where it does, it measures conservation success through mainly one type of conservation outcome (ecological). However, social-related issues such as actors’ attitudes and behaviour (intermediate outcomes on the change pathway) might contribute to more complete picture of the protected area success. The second part of the dissertation (Chapters 3 and 4) uses tiger conservation in central India as a case example to analyse governance change and the gaps between socially-inclusive and collaborative policies and actual practices on the ground. Chapter 3 investigates, from an institutional perspective, enabling and disabling factors for a shift towards “landscape-level conservation” that implies collaboration between PA managers and different actors in central India. The results show how a mix of institutional and cognitive factors can constrain a shift to the collaboration. Organisational structure of the public management agency and its “fortress conservation” mentality is perceived to be a major constrain for a change. Chapter 4 examines the case of two participatory projects around Pench Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh and evaluates the effects of project participation through local community’s attitudes towards biodiversity and trust and satisfaction with reserve authorities. The existing participatory approach seems to have only a small effect, mainly to people’s conservation knowledge but not to their biodiversity attitudes and institutional trust. The main findings of this dissertation calls attention to the understanding of the decision-making process, informal and formal institutions and interactions between conservation actors for more complete understanding and measurement of conservation success.