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Integrating local knowledge and perception for assessing vulnerability to climate change in economically dynamic coastal areas: The case of natural protected area Aiguamolls de l’Empordà, Spain

October 14, 2013

Climate change seems likely that will greatly affect natural protected areas and other vulnerable areas such as Mediterranean. Thus Aiguamolls de l’Empordà can be regarded as a key case study to assess current knowledge and perceptions of the potential climate change effects on the coastal population and economies in the Spanish Mediterranean region.

This study finds out that it is essential to gather and integrate local traditional knowledge with scientific knowledge in order to develop successful responses to climate change. Furthermore, it supports the position that vulnerability analysis must be participatory and must include social, cultural, environmental, economic and political dimensions, like it was the case in this research.

According to the quantitative and qualitative data gathered, major climate change effects such as increase in air temperature over the past few decades, a decrease in precipitation but increase in its intensity, the increase in the severity of droughts, and the decrease in biodiversity and ecosystem services are the most pressing climate change effects and serious threats to the observed area. In addition to this, the location of the coastal municipalities (their exposure) also makes them directly vulnerable to coastal erosion, saltwater intrusion and sea level rise. Stakeholders also found that climate change adaptation is needed and this finding may suggest that even if cost of adaptation is high, further losses to the economy and ecosystems might be even higher.

Fatorić S, Morén-Alegret R, in press. Integrating local knowledge and perception for assessing vulnerability to climate change in economically dynamic coastal areas: The case of natural protected area Aiguamolls de l’Empordà, Spain, Ocean & Coastal Management, 2013, doi:10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2013.09.010. Article.

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