Work on common pool resources has paid scant attention to the role of properties of natural resources for the way their provision is governed. This paper scrutinizes determinants of institutions that regulate the provision of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Two cases of maintaining ecosystem services are compared (protection of wolves and management of scattered fruit tree meadows). Distinct characteristics of resources (mobility) and differences in the overarching European regulatory framework explain their different institutional embeddedness. Cost-effectiveness considerations seem to be paramount in the design of institutions. In the case of wolf protection, the state uses its power to modify property rights in order to increase acceptance of wolf management. This is essential for political reasons as well as to prevent EU sanctions. On the other hand, scattered fruit tree maintenance is subject to voluntary, long-term agreements, justified by medium-term irreversibility and asset specific investments.