Protected landscape areas are primarily aimed to conserve nature on their territory. In Central Europe, areas having a status of being protected cannot be considered pristine landscapes. On the contrary, they are cultural landscapes having passed century long cultivation by human activities. Furthermore, they have been permanently populated. As a result nature protection measures should count with needs of local population in order not to make areas under protection a priori disadvantaged from socio-economic viewpoint. There is still open question if such a balance can be ever achieved. The focal point of this article is to discus whether or not, or to which extent, nature protection can be considered a factor differentiating level or speed of regional socio-economic development. We decided to use empirical evidence in order to test the historical belief as to that nature protection poses limits to economic development that may lead to stagnation if not decline in areas where it is applied. We used three Czech protected landscape areas and tested the hypothesis saying that areas being under special regime of management due to nature protection suffer from economic underdevelopment. Based on the analysis both of objective data and subjective reflection of the situation by local population we can conclude that protected areas should not be seen as territories a priori handicapped.
Key words: protected landscape area, nature protection, biosphere reserves, socio-economic development, sustainable development