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Perception Of Climatic Events By The Population Of The Amazon Estuary

Congress: 2015
Author(s): Sergio Rivero, Oriana Almeida, Yue Dou, Mariano Alves-Valez, Francisca Conceicao, Hilder Farias
UFPA1, Waterloo University2

Keyword(s): Sub-theme 17: Climate change, impacts and adaptation,
AbstractThe studies on climate change in Amazonia have focused on the impact of changes on the regional climate (Coe et al 2002, Costa et al., 2013, Costa et al, 2007, Sampaio et al., 2007, Oliveira et al 2013) or on the relationship of climate change and reduction of biomass (Phillips et al. 2013) and more recently on the interactions between human activities (such as deforestation), climate change and the water system (Melack et al 2013). However, there are few studies on the impact of climate change to the population of the Amazonian estuary. The population of the Amazon floodplain is subject to a number of inter and intra-annual variations in the periods of flooding that has a strong impact on productive strategies such as cattle ranching, agriculture, extraction of forest products (Hiraoka et al ., 1997, McGrath et al., 2007). Due to environmental constraints, this population depends heavily on extractive fishing and is thus even more vulnerable. The resulting system of environmental and economic interactions have generated diverse and dynamic and complex systems (Pinedo-Vasquez et al., 2001). For families who own a land area in the uplands, agriculture is a potential low-risk activity, however, for most families residing in the floodplain in areas that are completely flooded during high tides, this alternative does not exist or imply in a higher risk. Families in areas outside the floodplain have to use alternative crops more resistant to heat or reduced rainfall as a form of adaptation while this is a very limited option in the estuary due to topographical constraints of the terrain and flood regimes. This paper aims to analyze the perception of traditional estuarine population in relation to climatic events in the Amazon and assess the potential for adaptation to climate change in this population. A semi-structured questionnaire was developed and tested with 58 families in the Amazon estuary on the impact of climate change on fisheries and the production of açaí. Due to the intra and inter-annual environmental variation that these families are subject to, the questionnaire was adjusted twice to finally be reapplied with 239 families in two communities in the municipality of the state of Pará Abaetetuba: Arumanduba (169 interviews) and São João Batista (70 ). Questioned regarding their perception of climate change in the last 20 years, more than 60% of respondents mentioned that in this period they have seen the rise of temperature, rainfall and tides. Perceptions of climate impacts vary according to the activity and the type of weather event to be evaluated. One factor that had a consistent overall assessment was that high temperature affects the production of açaí. In general the product dries on the tree or fall and, according to the interviewees, can reduce yields by up to 46% on average and that most of the respondents informed that reduces between 10-20% while just over a fifth of the respondents estimates the reduction in 50%. Those who inform that high temperature do not affect the production of açaí, believe that the shading variation the trees, the level of the land and its flood can result in the difference in yeld. Regarding the fishing activity the answers were not as uniform as for the acai. In general, 54-58% report that high temperature affects the shrimp and fish (respectively) reducing their catch. The shrimp seem to be more susceptible to temperature and most of the informants said that the reduction occurs in the range 10-20% of production. The perception that temperature affects fishing fish is low (23% of total). The impact of rain, however, was remarkable for fishing. Most of the respondants say that increased rainfall and reduces fish and shrimp production (78% and 81%, respectively). In this case, around 50% said that production is reduced between 10-20% while 20% say that the reduction is around 50%. The tide seems to have huge impact on fisheries. In this case the respondents say that when the tides are higher there is a large reduction in fish and shrimp production (92 and 95%, respectively) where almost half of the respondents said that high tides reduce production between 10 and 20%, A substantial proportion of the respondents (43% related to shrimp and 55% on the fishing portion) say there is a reduction equal to or greater than 50%. Asked what each could do to reduce the impact of these factors respondents in almost all the answers or told that there was nothing to do, they did not know or did not answer the question. Asked how to reduce the impact of high tide relative to shrimp production, all respondents report not knowing what they could do. Surprisingly while 65% of respondents said that there was no way to reduce the impact of high temperatures on shrimp farming and fishing, the rest (45%), for the most part, believed that reducing deforestation would be a way to alleviate the impact. Some responded that useful measures could be to reforest or to protect the forest, or to reduce the effluent from the alumina plant in the Barcarena complex. Regarding the impact of high temperatures on the production of açaí a smaller proportion said not knowing what steps to take, a greater number said it was important to reduce deforestation and only 2% suggested to harvest before the hottest time. One of the points to be noted here is that the questions sought perceptions about the impact of climate variations on production for the year that the respondent consider a normal year. Our questionnaire also considered a weather event at a time and does not consider interaction between events. Analyzing rain as a factor, for example, in the period 1998-2013 the years 2002, 2003 and 2010 were considered too dry for the location while the years 1999, 2000 and 2005 were considered very rainy by Câmara climatological analysis (manuscript). The population of the estuary is subject to a continuous process of adaptation. The cycle of the sugar cane mills encouraged the planting of sugar cane (from 1920 to 1987, Anderson 1991) resulting in deforestation of lowland forest. In 1987 in end of the cycle, the population began the cycle of palm hearts, down much of the native palm heart areas for sale of palm and finally only with the rising price of açaí they began a process or maintenance of forest with enrichment of açaí forests or replanting açaí trees in areas previously cleared. 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