The unique natural value of the Šumava, which along with the neighbouring Bayerischer Wald represents one of the last major unbroken areas of unspoilt scenery in Europe, was acknowledged in 1963, when it received the status of a Protected Landscape Area. Completing a long-lasting effort by a group of enthusiast and nature lovers, this administrative step created a unique natural complex of substantial size, rich in varied landscapes and natural monuments – moors, lakes, mountain crests, forests, and plateaus.
The manifestation of different stages of development, the variability of the landscape within the complex, and the fact that it is exceptionally well-preserved - all this creates the Šumava’s outstanding reputation among the world’s topmost experts, and its value is likely to increase in future. After the Šumava National Park was founded within the limits of the Protected Landscape Area in 1991, the latter covers an expanse of 99,624 hectares, of which 27.4 pc is taken up by farmland, 57.6 pc by forests, 0.4 pc by built-up area, and 14.6 pc by succession area. The highest point is the top of Boubín at 1362 metres above sea level.
The original system of volunteer environmentalists was gradually complemented by professionals from the joint headquarters of the Šumava National Park and the Šumava Protected Landscape Area in Vimperk.
The territory of the Protected Landscape Area includes a number of sites which require special protection and are popular with tourists at the same time. In the Vimperk region it is, for instance, the Boubín primeval forest nature reserve (receiving the status of a nature reserve as early as 1858), Bílá strž with a 13-metre waterfall, or Lakes Černé and Čertovo, the Amálino valley nature reserve, Čertova stráň, Datelovská strž, Losenice, Nebe, Milešický Primeval Forest, or Zhůřská pláň, and natural monuments such as the river Blanice (Europe’s largest population of freshwater pearl mussel), the Královský Primeval Forest (with remains of mixed virgin forest of the mountain type), or Poušť (possessing an exceptional concentration of Formica polyctena ants).
The Protected Landscape Area is the habitat of scores of endangered species of animals and plants, the best-known of them being the common viper, the white-backed woodpecker, capercaillie, lynx, or Bechstein’s bat.