With environmental regimes, rapidly emerging and developing, scholars working on the evaluation of ecosystem governance and its capacity to adapt to global environmental change, face a challenge of accounting for the past changes of institutional set-ups and “legacy effects” they created. These effects may include previously taken management actions (including infrastructure development) and formal and informal institutions developed or modified. This is important that even if completely new governance regimes are being emerged/introduced, the inertia of the previous set-up can be persistent, in particular where informal institutions are strong. This problem has been raised in the course of a larger study looking at the adaptive capacity of forest ecosystems in Belarus. Belarus makes for an interesting case because the country is in socio-economic transition since early 1990s, and it still preserves the national governance, which is very much top-down and not participatory. At the same time, the national government and NG sector closely cooperate with international organisations and EU on a number of initiatives, Belarus has ratified most of environmental MEAs, and the national environmental legislation has often been developed after EU models, i.e. multiple levels of environmental governance emerge and influence the national policy and the implementation mechanisms. Another effect of transition is that the conservation status of many protected areas and mandates of the management agencies are often revised and re-formulated. To account for the legacy effect on the adaptation capacity of institutions of ecosystem governance, we have developed a methodological framework based on the analytical problems of the Earth System Governance as formulated by Biermann et al (2009) (Architecture, Agents, Allocation, Accountability, Adaptiveness) translated in a set of operational criteria. The criteria were applied to typical institutional set- ups associated with certain conservations categories of forest ecosystems, and mapped nationwide.