Current landscape ecological research applies trans-disciplinarity as a principle when considering the study of landscape as a multifunctional entity. The principle can be practically applied by use of participatory action research. The paper reports on the use of participatory action research in the process of step-by-step institutionalization of the Šumava Biosphere Reserve, as a complement to the state-conducted nature conservation, which took place in the period 1991−2016. To briefly summarize the main findings, we can suggest that the present institutional model of the Šumava Biosphere Reserve emerged primarily thanks to the ‘permanent jointly conducted experiment’ that followed the spiral scheme of action research, in which outputs of one implementation project served as a starting point to formulate, and subsequently realize the follow-up projects(s). The local community was engaged in the whole process, hence lessons learned became a part of local social and cultural capital, which since can be considered important endogenous developmental potential of the region.