Traditional Ecological Knowledge as a Contribution to Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation: The Case of the Portuguese Coastal Populations

Joana Gaspar de Freitas, Maria Rosário Bastos, João Alveirinho Dias

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Climate change is responsible for mean sea level rise. Coastal flooding and erosion put at risk the infrastructures and activities humans have been developing in the littoral during the twentieth century. Perceptions about this space changed and people forgot that coasts are unstable territories. Solutions to mitigate the impacts of climate change in coastal zones are now being searched. Looking back, to the past, can help. For centuries fishing communities developed strategies to survive in this hostile environment. Their ecological traditional knowledge and ways of life can provide practical responses to present challenges. The last IPCC report recognizes that local and traditional knowledge, being a major resource in response to climate change, have not been used consistently. This is in part due to the lack of studies. The aim of this chapter is to address the case of the Portuguese fishing populations to show how they developed coping practices using the available resources and simple technical means. Fishermen’s key strategies included particular architecture forms, different activities according to seasons and specific local knowledge that allow them to recognized climate and coastline changes. Their lessons are compared to mitigation and adaptation measures being proposed nowadays. This allows to establish which ones are more suited to the Portuguese coast specificity and therefore will probably be more effective. Also the recovery of the cultural heritage about the risks of living in the coast is useful to prepare coastal communities to be aware of the future changes and to the need of building a more sustainable development.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of Climate Change Communication
EditorsWalter Leal Filho, Evangelos Manolas, Anabela Marisa Azul, Ulisses M. Azeiteiro, Henry McGhie
Place of PublicationBerlim
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-319-70479-1
ISBN (Print)978-3-319-70478-4
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Fishers
  • Historical approach
  • Global changes
  • Coastal management
  • Sustainable development
  • Littoral
  • Sea level rise
  • Cultural responses


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