AIMS & CONTEXT:
An assessment of the value of riparian forest cannot fail to take into consideration the populations that reside in nearby areas, as well as visitors, tourists and other users (fishermen, hunters, etc.). Fluvial landscapes provide cultural services, in the sense that they are used for economic activities (such as ecotourism), but also for intangible assets, such as leisure, fruition enjoyment of natural heritage, health and relaxation purposes, sense of belonging.
Human actions have an impact over these ecosystems, but also the values and meanings communities hold about these areas bear an influence over practices and the willingness to support and collaborate in sustainable management. Local knowledge may also be an important contribution to gathering information on natural phenomena, as well as cultural practices and representations.
This activity aims to understand the perceptions, attitudes and practices of local communities and visitors towards the river and the forest that flanks it in the two case study areas, Touvedo (Ponte de Lima) and Fronhas (Arganil), but also to engage them in the discussion of how these ecosystems can be managed and protected.
RESOURCES AND METHODS:
This task will comprise a set of diverse methods:
– characterisation of the populations that reside in the vicinity of the two river dams under case study, Touvedo and Fronhas, based on existing statistical data (mainly from the National Census, but also other official surveys) and tracing their socio-demographic evolution over the past decades;
– a survey of inhabitants and visitors in the two locations, with the purpose of examining the use practices of riparian areas, but also perceptions, attitudes and values attached to them;
– interviews with local stakeholders (e.g. municipal and parish authorities, tourism businesses, teachers, environmental and heritage associations) regarding the uses and values of riparian areas;
– a workshop with local stakeholders and inhabitants, in which the results of the project are shown and debated, in order to find socially acceptable and sustainable modes of environmental management, and assess potential trajectories of land use change.