Perception of farmers on landscape change in southern Brazil: Divergences and convergences related to gender and age
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Studies on the perception of the landscape are essential to the understanding of the meanings attributed to space by societies. The purpose of this study was to analyze the perception of farmers living within the western region of Santa Catarina (Southern Brazil) on the landscape and its dynamics, as well as to investigate the influence of age and gender on such perceptions. We tested the hypothesis that the older farmers would have a greater preference than the younger ones for the current landscape (agropastoral landscapes that provide family support). Also, we hypothesized that women would have a greater preference than men for landscapes of the past, diversified and with a natural environment. Data was gathered by means of semi structured interviews and by the Q Method. For the Q Method, we used statements that contained information on the regional landscape and its temporal dynamics, history of the region's settling, as well as social and socio-environmental conservation. Data was submitted to factor analysis in order to identify discourses, to multivariate analysis to observe patterns between responses, and to significance tests with the purpose of comparing age groups and genders. We identified three factors representing the perception of farmers on the landscape: naturalist, social and socio-environmental discourses. We observed differences in the preferences of landscape (past and present) among age groups (young people have a more naturalist view of the landscape and prefer its past version), however, we did not observe differences concerning gender. Our results show that the farmers have perceived the landscape changes and the environmental degradation that occurred in the studied region in the last decades, as well as the social issues involved in such changes, and that the farmers think that the conservation of the environment is important.