During my Masters I was analyzing the cultural disarticulation of traditional fisherman in the extreme south of Santa Catarina State due the environmental degradation of Sombrio’s Lagoon. In this context, the degradation occurs because of several factors: The winding spillways transformation into straight flow channels in the 1960s produced the decrease of the water depth. Agricultural implementations of Green Revolution transformed the pond’s surrounding landscape. Population growth and urbanization in Sombrio city also contributed to environmental degradation, because of continuous sewage release. The sedimentation and dispersion of Brachiaria radicans Napper contribute to sedimentation in the margins and within the pond.
I am currently studying in my PhD whether (and how) the occurrence of environmental disasters transforms people’s environmental perceptions in the southern of Santa Catarina State (Brazil) during the last forty years. The theoretical-methodological approach of Environmental History allows a better understanding of the interaction between humans and the environment as a two-way street, where constraints and conditioners exchange places all the time. The human dimension in environmental changes became predominant in Environmental History research that deals with disasters as elements of the environment, what is as a result of the relationship between humans and nature. There are several types of disasters occurring in the state of Santa Catarina in southern Brazil, including floods, landslides, tornadoes, droughts and even a hurricane (the first hurricane of the South Atlantic). Often local knowledge saves people’s lives, since public policies in Brazil are directed to post-disaster repair to the damage. In this case, local knowledge is what makes individuals more resilient. My primary objective as a researcher is to understand through time the various people’s environmental perceptions to help in the development of Disaster Risk Reduction policies. The goal is to demonstrate that each group has a unique way of interacting with the environment, and thus dealing with disasters. It should also be mentioned that Brazil does not consider local knowledge in drawing up plans for disaster mitigation.