Impact of farming practices on the environment and on wetlands is determined, to a great extent, by the level of farmers» environmental awareness. Effective conservation of wetlands cannot depend merely on prohibitions but instead it is necessary to investigate users» knowledge and attitudes towards these vulnerable resources and then inform and encourage sustainable use. In the present study we examine: (1) farmers» knowledge of the environmental impact of modern agriculture practised adjacent to two Ramsar wetlands, Lakes Kerkini and Prespa, and on the Plain of the Serres Basin, (2) absence of knowledge associated with characteristics of farming operations and their managers; and (3) which groups are in greater need of environmental awareness and knowledge. Data analysis revealed that the majority of farmers ignored the environmental impact of modern agriculture. Wetland farmers were more ignorant and practised a more intensive form of agriculture than those on the Plain. Prespa farmers were the most intensive farmers and were also the most ignorant with regards to water quality, soil and landscape and the use of pesticides and herbicides. This is particularly important since Prespa is a National Park. Kerkini farmers showed less environmental awareness and farmed more intensively, compared to their adjacent counterparts on the Plain. Those more «knowledgeable» concerning environmental impacts of high input agriculture are those younger crop farmers with higher formal education and training. The findings of the study call for immediate action to implement specifically designed training programmes for wetland farmers, primarily of Prespa, so that they become more environmentally aware and eventually change their behaviour in a pro-environmental direction. This study highlights the necessity to build a conservation consensus among farmers in environmentally sensitive areas by educating them to conserve natural resources, training them to practise sustainable agriculture and rewarding the most environmentally friendly agriculture.
Journal of Environmental Management – Elsevier
Published: Jun 1, 1999
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