This research examines the impact of forest management regimes, with various degrees of restriction, on forest conservation in a dry deciduous Indian forest landscape. Forest change is mapped using Landsat satellite images from 1977, 1990, 1999, and 2011. The landscape studied has lost 1478 km2 of dense forest cover between 1977 and 2011, with a maximum loss of 1002 km2 of dense forest between 1977 and 1990. The number of protected forest areas has increased, concomitant with an increase in restrictions on forest access and use outside protected areas. Interviews with residents of 20 randomly selected villages indicate that in the absence of alternatives, rather than reducing their dependence on forests, communities appear to shift their use to other, less protected patches of forest. Pressure shifts seem to be taking place as a consequence of increasing protection, from within protected areas to forests outside, leading to the creation of protected but isolated forest islands within a matrix of overall deforestation, and increased conflict between local residents and forest managers. A broader landscape vision for forest management needs to be developed, that involves local communities with forest protection and enables their decision-making on forest management outside strict protected areas.