, Volume 45, Issue 4, pp 458–467 | Cite as

Human perceptions of landscape change: The case of a monodominant forest of Attalea speciosa Mart ex. Spreng (Northeast Brazil)

  • Gabriela M. A. de Almeida
  • Marcelo A. Ramos
  • Elcida L. Araújo
  • Cristina Baldauf
  • Ulysses Paulino Albuquerque


From the perception of human populations, we can assess the changes occurring in certain landscapes and the factors that cause those changes. Such studies have proven helpful in increasing the knowledge of the history of a landscape, recognizing past formations and projecting its future. Our research objective was to determine how a landscape dominated by the palm tree Attalea speciosa, a species of ecological, economic, and cultural importance, has been changing over time by synthesizing and comparing historical documents and local perceptions. This study was conducted in Araripe Environmental Protection Area, Northeast Region, Brazil. To understand local landscape change, we interviewed active harvesters in four communities in which A. speciosa use has been documented. Historical documents were evaluated as a complement to the interview data. According to local informants, areas previously used for cultivation and animal husbandry that were abandoned or decimated by droughts in the region may have fostered the expansion of a monodominant A. speciosa forest. Furthermore, other forms of landscape management resulting from human population growth may also have affected the current and past distribution of this forest.


Ethnobiology Ethnoecology Environmental Perception Landscape Ecology Local Ecological Knowledge 



The authors thank the residents of the Macaúba, Tabocas, Boa Esperança, and Barro Branco, especially those who directly contributed to this research by sharing their knowledge, the staff of the Casa de Apoio Santa Rita-ICMBio for logistical support, and all members of the Laboratory of Applied and Theoretical Ethnobiology (Laboratório de Etnobiologia Aplicada e Teórica–LEA-UFRPE). They also thank the Pernambuco Research Foundation (Fundação de Amparo à Ciência e Tecnologia do Estado de Pernambuco– FACEPE) for the financial support (APQ-1264- 2.05/10). They also thank the Brazilian National Council of Scientific and Technological Development (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico–CNPq) for the fellowships granted to the UPA and ELA.


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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratório de Etnobiologia Aplicada e Teórica (LEA)Universidade Federal Rural de PernambucoRecifeBrazil
  2. 2.Departamento de Ciências BiológicasUniversidade de PernambucoNazaré da MataBrazil
  3. 3.Laboratório de Ecossistemas Nordestinos (LEVEN)Universidade Federal Rural de PernambucoRecifeBrazil
  4. 4.Laboratório de Etnoecologia e Biodiversidade (LEB)Universidade Federal Rural do SemiáridoMossoróBrazil

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