Representations of farm owners and farmworkers on the changes and conservation of the riparian forest along margins of the São Francisco River, Northeast Brazil

Taline Cristina da Silva, Marcelo Alves Ramos, Ivan André Alvarez, Lúcia Helena Piedade Kiill, Ulysses Paulino de Albuquerque


In Brazil, areas with high water potential for development of
irrigate agriculture was marked by the occupation of human groups. In this context, the vegetation along the São Francisco
River is constantly changing. This study sought to answer the following questions: “How do famers and farmworkers
describe the possible changes in riparian forest over time?”; “Which events are responsible for these possible changes?”,
and; “How do farmers describe aspects related to the use and conservation of riparian vegetation?” A total of 17 men and
eight women, owners and farmworkers from areas close to the riparian vegetation, in five municipalities in the states of
Bahia and Pernambuco, participated in this research. Semi-structured and semi-structured projective-type interviews
were used to investigate their representations of the conservation of riparian vegetation and changes in the local landscape,
and to record historical events that influenced them. Aiming to record the local knowledge about the diversity of the most
important useful species, the free list technique was used. Only one informant said that the riparian vegetation has not
changed, six considered that the changes were for the worse and four considered that the changes were for the better. Four
owners responded that changes in the vegetation began 10 years ago, six indicated more than 30 years ago, two did not
know and one has not perceive any changes. Amongst the farmworkers, five said that vegetation had changed more than
20 years ago, four indicated more than 10 years ago and four indicated that it had not changed. All informants agreed that
the riparian vegetation should be preserved either because it protects the river (64%) or because it has other uses, such as

attracting rain, providing shade, medicinal uses and increasing oxygen. Some of the informants (48%) considered the landowners responsible for the conservation of riparian vegetation, some (48%) that this was a duty of everybody and a
smaller portion (4%) attributed responsibility to IBAMA. They also pointed out solutions to the conservation of this
vegetation: reforestation (39%), non-clearance (17%), environmental education (13%) and good care (13%). Future
restoration projects that might take place in this area should take into account these representations, demands and



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