Effective implementation of participatory environmental governance face s a number of challenges, including the need for appropriate mechanisms and incentive systems that can operate across multiple-use landscapes. This study demonstrated scenarios for such governance from three agro-ecological zones in different geographical, biophysical and socio-cultural settings: (i) Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary in the temperate forests of the Central Himalayas, (ii) Kolleru Lake, a freshwater lake in the Krishna basin, and (iii) the downstream Ganges seasonal floodplains in Bangladesh. The cross-disciplinary set of approaches in these examples involves the use of spatial tools and socioeconomic surveys to build a scenario-based framework with cross-scaling prospects. The comparative analysis between these sites is significant in the context of providing guidance for trans-boundary environmental governance and the underlying challenges that occur in politically complex and common property resource institutional arrangements. Meeting these challenges will assist in the efforts, locally and nationally, to make wise use of all wetlands, as required under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands. Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary symbolizes a case of increasing anthropogenic pressure, limited livelihood options and with gaps in the governance structure. Kolleru Lake represents a case of inadequate understanding of the ecological dimensions of livelihood interventions and the consequential community conflict. The case of the floodplains in Bangladesh illustrates the potential of collective action, supported by appropriate institutional arrangements, for improving rice-fish productivity. The case studies support the argument that monitoring and assessment of the response structure and its dynamics, with the application of geospatial tools, adds value when shaping a framework for policy debate and for ensuring the wise use of wetlands.