Risk Perception and Vulnerability of Wetlands Areas on South America's Atlantic Coast
Canadian specialists are contributing to research examining the risks to and vulnerability of wetland areas along the Atlantic coast of South America. These areas along the coastline protect ecosystems provide flood control, stabilize shorelines, replenish groundwater, and purify water. They also act as reservoirs of biodiversity and help mitigate the impacts of climate change. Increasingly, however, wetlands along the Atlantic coast of southern Brazil and eastern Uruguay are threatened population growth, rapid land use change, mangrove deforestation, pollution, and water diversion. These low-lying coastal plains are especially susceptible to the effects of climate change such as flooding. At risk are the most vulnerable poor fishing communities and small-scale farmers who have limited capacity to cope with further losses due to ecosystem degradation. While there is increasing institutional awareness of the important role y the wetland ecosystem services play in human welfare, local knowledge of the risks is low. At the same time, local authorities have limited capacity to respond as policymakers consider appropriate responses and practices. This research aims to build Brazil's and Uruguay's resilience to climate change in the Atlantic coastal wetlands and communities by increasing public awareness of the role of ecosystems and supporting the design of policies for climate change adaptation. Researchers from universities in Brazil and Uruguay will collaborate with Canadian and Portuguese specialists on studies of three wetland sites. They will identify and evaluated for climate change stressors and then analyze factors affecting wetland management and the local communities' perception of risks. Based on this analysis, guidelines will be developed to encourage municipal and national governments to incorporate ecosystem services into climate change policies. A number of scientific articles will also be prepared for publication.