The present article focuses on continuity and change in natural resource institutions in post-Soviet Kyrgyzstan. Two main trends have characterised the management of water, agricultural land and pastures since the country became independent in 1991. First, while natural resources were collective and state-owned during the Soviet period, they are now being gradually pri- vatised and passed into individual or group ownership. Second, by contrast with central administration under the Soviet regime, after independence natural resource management has been and is increasingly being decentral- ised to the community level. We suggest that these processes have created a new concept of the ‘private’, defined as clearly assigned property rights as opposed to ‘commons’, and individual or group ownership as opposed to ‘public’ ownership. We attempt here to analyse how privatisation and decen- tralisation have created new property relations and new forms of natural resource governance. We conclude that these processes have yielded both favourable and unfavourable outcomes.