This paper starts from the now widely-held premise that biodiversity conservation ought to take place both inside and outside protected areas if biodiversity targets are to be met. Given the potential inter-linkages of areas inside and outside protected areas in ecosystems, the ultimate structure of biodiversity conservation should be bioregional landscape management. A framework for studying the factors affecting biodiversity conservation in bioregions is suggested. While many factors might affect biodiversity conservation, the use of economic incentives is argued to be potentially one of the most effective mechanisms for mainstreaming biodiversity conservation in bioregions. Institutions are singled out as one important class of socio-economic arrangements directly associated with economic incentives. Institutions are thus likely to be a major determinant of the vulnerability or success of biodiversity conservation. The paper uses South African examples, and concludes by outlining the research issues important in understanding the role of economic incentives in that context.