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Environmental perceptions of students, farmers, and other economically active members of the local population near the protected area of Axios, Loudias and Aliakmonas estuaries, in Greece

  • Authors
    Kleftoyanni V.
    Abakoumkin G.
    Vokou D.

This study concerns a protected area in northern Greece and examines how local people’s
occupation influences their perception of environmental impacts and their views and information
about the area. The target groups were local residents that (a) were employed in the primary sector,
(b) were employed in other economic sectors, and (c) were students or high-school seniors. Use of
pesticides and fertilizers and industrial waste disposal were identified as sources of environmental
impacts by the large majority of the total sample (>80%). Much lower (30-62%) was the perception
of impacts from the other, more local stress sources. Primary-sector respondents (mostly farmers)
scored lower in their environmental perceptivity; nevertheless, they were highly aware that some of
their practices have negative impacts on the environment. Students outperformed the other groups
in having visited the local information centre and in having attended an environmental information/
awareness event about the protected area; despite this, they also had the highest proportions of
‘don’t-know’ answers. Small differences (even less than 5 km) in the distance of respondents’
residence from the protected area led to significant differences in environmental perceptivity. There
is both a need for and interest from the local people to get better informed. As sufficient knowledge
of the area and of the threats to its integrity is a requirement for the adoption and acceptance of
measures aiming to moderate such threats, environmental information/ awareness events should be
organized by the managing authorities. These should focus on issues specific to the area rather
than of general environmental nature and target primarily people employed in the primary sector
that live close to the protected area and students.

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