Periods of institutional change are crucial to developing a capacity for just and participatory natural resource management. Whilst the need for such change is often widely recognised, shifting to a new regime is typically uncertain, tentative and uneven. Transitions between regimes are crucial periods when institutional foundations for justice or injustice can be laid for decades. Transitions need to address both formal institutional structures and the informal values, networks and resources that underpin these structures. New South Wales, Australia, has recently undergone a period of major reform in natural resource management, involving substantial institutional and legislative changes. This period of reform illustrates transitional issues of rescaling and changes to decision-making structures. Increased attention to these issues during institutional reform and to the process of transition itself is essential to developing sustainable forms of environmental governance.