New environmental governance (NEG) claims to improve efficacy as well as “deepen democracy” by opening up new points of public participation into many levels and stages of traditional legal process. This article examines a vital, yet divisive, aspect of these new participatory approaches: the challenge of achieving inclusive and representative participation by civil society actors and all pertinent stakeholders. Using research into 12 case studies drawn from three leading Australian NEG programs, this article empirically examines inclusion and representation in practice and reveals the substantial difficulties NEG faces in fully satisfying its participatory aspira- tions. This leads the article to make a number of important empirically-based recommendations for designing more effective participation processes. These recommendations fall under two broad themes: (i) enhancing the capacities of potential participants; and (ii) enhancing the capacity and role of public agencies as facilitators of participation. The analysis also has implications for ongoing theoretical debates regarding the participatory and democratic character of NEG.