Even though geographers and psychologists have written extensively about the diverse ways in which people–place bonds are articulated across space, there has been little work on the extent to which perceptions of nature protection both influence and are influenced by the strength
of place attachment. Therefore, this paper explores the attitudes and opinions of local residents towards nature protection and place attachment in two East and Central European (ECE) national parks: Šumava in the Czech Republic and Pelister in the Republic of Macedonia. Our analysis
is based on expert interviews and a standardised questionnaire survey undertaken in both areas in 2008 and 2009, respectively. The research results emphasise that that local residents maintain a strong place attachment to the protected areas in which they live, regardless of the strictness
and quality of the environmental management regime in them. It has also become evident that local residents do not distinguish among the different activities, roles and types of care for the national park undertaken by the authorities, despite the existence of divergent local conditions. In
more general terms, the paper hopes to demonstrate the benefits of using a multi‐method, geographically aware approach towards the study of nature protection practices.