Stakeholders perceptions of local environmental changes as a tool for impact assessment in coastal zones
Through history, population growth and anthropic activities have pressed and affected marine environments, causing impacts that were not always studied or reported. In this context, evaluate stakeholders perceptions of a particular region in Coastal Zones (CZs) can be useful for identifying environmental impacts that occurred in the past, especially in the absence of preterit data and effective monitoring. Engaging stakeholders in the discussion of local transformations may also contribute to the development of shared local management strategies regarding the knowledge and opinions of stakeholders about the place they live in. Thus, considering Araçá Bay as a case of study, this research aimed to understand preterit and present transformations on the Bay, through the perception of the people who live and visit the region for a long period of time. Data collected with interviews enabled the identification of events and factors that have induced changes in the region, mainly related to large enterprises and buildings that occurred from the second half of the twentieth century. Major impacts perceived by interviewees were changes in spatial configuration of the Bay, changes in hydrodynamic and sedimentary patterns, reduction of coastal vegetation areas and increased pollution. Some of these changes were also pointed by scientific studies or observed in historic aerial photographs, and were no totally predicted by EIA of related enterprise. Considering the importance of communities' perception and its use to better understand historical facts, preterit and present impacts derived from local human interventions, it is concluded that they are an important qualitative database and can be useful for the development of management strategies and for EIA analysis.