Avelar, S.; Vasconcelos, G.; Mansur, K. L.; Anjos, S. C.
A series of lagoons can be found along the coastline of Rio de Janeiro, in the so-called Regiao dos Lagos. The lagoons differ in size, physicochemical, sedimentological and biological characteristics. Rare examples of litifying microbialites that produce stromatolites, the oldest fossils on Earth, can be found living in this lagoon system. The occurrence of stromatolites in the region is of great scientific interest because it enables the study of possible analogues of the earliest life on Earth. However, this region has been suffering from intense human activities and degradations. Geoconservation planning requires an assessment of the characteristics of the region and its potential threats. The primary goal of this study is to assess physical environmental changes and anthropogenic impacts over the last four decades in Regiao dos Lagos. Using a broad integrative assessment combining remote sensing, GIS, field studies and local knowledge of communities, land-cover and land-use classes were identified, as well as the main human activities impacting the environment. The seasonal and weekend tourism and urban sprawl in this coastal area of Rio de Janeiro triggers the occupation of new areas and the removal of natural vegetation, especially on lagoon margins. This disorderly occupation by an ever increasing population, with both legal and illegal constructions and the subsequent overload of the local infrastructure, e.g. increase of electrical energy consumption, volume of vehicles, pollution in air, water and soil and problems with water supply and wastewater treatment, are hastening the gradual degradation of the lake ecosystem. The main driving forces to environmental changes over the last four decades in Regiao dos Lagos were the change of dense vegetation, saline and bare soil classes into built-up areas, adding to the poor waste treatment and inadequate sewage disposal. This analysis provides a basis for a better control of anthropogenic impacts and