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Environmental awareness of the permanent inhabitants of towns and villages on the shores of Lake Balaton with special reference to issues related to global climate change

Várkuti, Anna, Kovács, Kata, Stenger-Kovács, Csilla, Padisák, Judit
Hydrobiologia 2008 v.599 no.1 pp. 249-257
elderly, questionnaires, tourism, water quality, lakes, surveys, landscape management, climate change, villages, seasonal variation, hydrology, summer, towns, biodiversity, storms, environmental education, Hungary
Lake Balaton, one of the largest lakes in Europe, is an important centre for summer tourism in Hungary. The appearance of the water is, however, influenced by a number of physical and biological factors such as the frequency of storms, the hydrological balance, the water level and the growth of algae. Here we report the results of a survey designed to test the reaction of the local population to these seasonal and inter-annual variations. This survey was based on a questionnaire completed by 960 permanent inhabitants of the shoreline villages and was designed to explore their awareness of the local and regional factors responsible for the changes. About one-quarter of the respondents considered that the drying effects of global climate change had already had an effect on the Lake Balaton area. Although younger (16-26) and middle-aged (27-50) respondents benefit most from good water quality, those in the oldest age group (51-92) were more concerned about the quality of the water and broader issues such as biodiversity and the conservation of the landscape. Considering that the future of the lake depends on the youngest generation, this suggests that their environmental education could be improved to strengthen their understanding of environmental issues.