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Ambiente & Sociedade

Print version ISSN 1414-753XOn-line version ISSN 1809-4422

Ambient. soc. vol.22  São Paulo  2019  Epub Aug 26, 2019 

Original Articles





2Architect and Urban Designer (UNERJ), Master (UFPR), Undergraduation course professor in Architecture and Urban Design (UNISOCIESC) and PhD student from Programa de Pós-graduação em Planejamento Territorial e Desenvolvimento socioambiental Acadêmico (PPGPLAN) at Santa Catarina State University (UDESC). E-mail:

3Biologist, Master and PhD in Education, retired professor of University of Minho - Portugal, member of Associação Brasileira de Redução de Risco de Desastres (ABRRD) and of Rede Sul Brasileira de Educação Ambiental (REASUL). E-mail:

4Sociologist (UFRGS), Master (UFSC) PhD (Université du Maine - França), tenured professor from Department of Geography and Post-graduation Programmes in Territorial Planning and Socio-Environmental Development (academic and professional PPGPLAN) at UDESC. E-mail:


The favelas studies became a constant in university researches given the relevance of studying this urban phenomenon. This article has as purpose to identify the forms of territorialisation present in the Arvoredo Community (Favela do Siri) and how they relate to the social and environmental conflicts experienced by its residents. The occupation located in an Environmental Protection Area (dunes) it’s located in the city of Florianópolis and the case study will be analyzed based on empirical and theoretical evidences. The presented results bring the various faces of the territory as the exercise of power and are identified and portrayed under the bases of the socioenvironmental conflicts.

Keywords: Territory; Social and environmental conflicts; Favelas; City; Arvoredo community


Los estudios en favelas se han convertido en una constante en las investigaciones de universidades dada la relevancia de estudiar este fenómeno urbano. Este artículo se propone identificar las formas de territorialización presentes en la Comunidad del Arvoredo (Favela del Siri) y cómo se relacionan con los conflictos sociales y ambientes vividos por sus habitantes. La ocupación situada en área de preservación permanente (dunas) se encuentra en la ciudad de Florianópolis y el estudio de caso será analizado con base en evidencias empíricas y teóricas. Los resultados presentados traen las diversas caras del territorio como el ejercicio de poder y son identificados y retratados bajo las bases de los conflictos socioambientales.

Palabras-clave: Territorio; Conflictos socioambientales; Favelas; Ciudad; Comunidad Arvoredo


Os estudos que envolvem as comunidades segregadas em favelas são constantes nos meios acadêmicos por envolverem um número crescente da população. Eles se constituem também no maior desafio urbano dos países latino americanos, cujo fenômeno carece de compreensão e soluções. Este artigo se propõe a identificar as formas de territorialização presentes na Comunidade do Arvoredo (Favela do Siri) e como elas se constroem nos conflitos sociais e ambientais vividos pelos seus moradores. A ocupação é situada em APP - Área de Preservação Permanente (dunas), localizada na cidade de Florianópolis e o estudo de caso será analisado com base em evidências empíricas e teóricas. Os resultados apresentados trazem as várias faces do território como exercício de poder e é identificado e retratado sob as bases dos conflitos socioambientais.

Palavras-chave: Território; Conflitos socioambientais; Favelas; Cidade; Comunidade do Arvoredo

1. Introduction

According to “Word Urbanization Prospects” report (NATIONS, 2014), 54% of the world’s population reside in urban areas and this number is projected to be 66% by 2050. In Brazil, despite considering the identification criteria of rural and urban areas to be questionable, it is notorious to find an expanding urbanity, currently reaching a rate of 84,4% of total Brazilian population, (IBGE, 2010).

This growth is explained by the fact that cities are work generating centres and hold many types of infrastructure which continually attract new residents. In Brazil, just as in other South American countries, habitation is one of the challenges to be overcome, especially when it comes to low-income population.

When human habitation occurs in these social inequality conditions, there is an unplanned occupation of inadequate areas, and this includes aspects such as: 1) environmental, related to the protected nature of these spaces and possible risk character of the occupation; 2) legal, since in these places building is generally forbidden; 3) socio-economic, given the frequent association of these occupations with poverty and/or social exclusion. Thus, “the home, place of protection par excellence” has become “a place of risk [...] a dwelling at risk” (MARANDOLA, 2014, p.16). All this is accentuated in countries with scarcer resources and/or larger income distribution inequality and constitutes a relevant field of research, as is the case of Brazil and other countries in South America, Asia and Africa. Without other options, low-income populations are forced to occupy steep areas, flood areas and/or environmentally degraded areas, generating the so-called “favelas”.

Such reality constitutes a relevant research field, and in this logic the present article is inserted, in a very particular and paradigmatic case of a favela’s territorial construction: the Arvoredo Community (self-designation which replaces the former and marginalizing name “Favela do Siri” [Sand-Crab Favela]).

This community is located in the city of Florianópolis, Santa Catarina state; it holds a total of 64 favelas, housing 12% of the city’s population. Florianópolis’ first favelas date back to the 1920s. After the 1970s there was an increase in the number of favelas and the growth of their populations, attracted by the well-known quality of life claimed to be found in the “Magic Island”, which prompted an astonishing rural-urban migration movement (MIRANDA, 2001).

However, countryside families came across the high cost of living and few work options, having to resort to informal housing and thus expanding the number of favelas in Florianópolis and throughout the country’s territory; such situation reached greater migratory volume in the period between 1987 and 2000, when “the population inside Florianópolis’ favelas jumped from 21 to 50 thousand inhabitants” (MIRANDA, 2001: 21). The Arvoredo Community had the greatest population growth during this period, going from 30 to 221 families between 1995 and 2005. (GRANDO, 2011).

This community presents a set of characteristics which justify the importance of a research that is centred in the territoriality issues: 1) it is installed in an APP (Permanent Preservation Area) among sand dunes, which not only is illegal but also causes environmental degradation and presents a health hazard to those who live in it; 2) it is located in a touristically important neighbourhood; 3) it has continued to grow and consolidate itself; 4) it is constantly present in the news when it comes to violence and drug trade.

Within this context the research problem can be formulated as followed: What are Arvoredo Community’s main characteristics regarding its territorial organization? How do such characteristics relate to the community’s acting agents and which relevant socio-environmental conflicts can be identified?

In addition to these initial considerations, the text includes three parts. In the first part some theoretical-thematical aspects are debated, in the second part methodological issues are addressed, as well as the case study itself, which relied on bibliographic review and field research, including photographic survey, interviews and observation; in the third part the results are shown, intersected by theoretical aspects which help understand and integrate them in the state of the art of similar studies in the fields of urban planning and urban geography.

2. Theoretocal-Conceptual framework

2.1. Space, Territory and Territoriality

Space is “[...] something that is material, tangible, palpable. Crop fields, pastures; houses, buildings, [...] but it is not just that, not just materiality” (SOUZA M, 2013, p.32). The geographic space is “truly and densely social and the dynamics to be emphasized are those of social relations (although without losing sight of its natural dynamics and relative conditions)” (SOUZA M, 2013, p.31). While as materiality, social space also distinguishes itself from territory. Territory is a spatial projection of a power relation: “they are, above all, social relationships projected in space rather than concrete spaces” (SOUZA M, 1995, p.87).

Raffestin was one of the pioneers to coin the term “territory” in the academic world and, based on his studies between 1976 and 1986, points out that: “[...] territory rests upon space but is not space in itself. It is a production which stems from space. Now, production, due to all of the relationships it entails, includes itself in a field of power” (RAFFESTIN, 1993 [1980], p.2).

Marcelo Lopes de Souza (1995), who has become an essential reference, in the deepening of his studies in this topic, reinforces this idea by affirming that territory: “[...] is, fundamentally speaking, a space which is defined and delimited by and from power relations.” (p. 78). “And in this exercise of power, in order to identify a territory one must know: “Who dominates or influences who in this space and how?” (p. 79).

The identification of who dominates or decisively influences a territory is defined by how the given domain and/or influence is established and materialized and how it determines space. In other words, how power is exerted through and in a given territory, which includes the analysis of potential coercion mechanisms, which are present in threats and/or the command of these places.

For now it is intended to present the concepts in which these reflections are based on highlighting, as did Souza, that territory is, “first and foremost, power [...]. Territories are not tangible and palpable matter, but rather “force fields”, which only exist while the social relations, of which they are specialized projections, last” (SOUZA M, 2013, p.88-89).

To mistake territory with its “area” or its material, spatial substrate is to “objectify” it, at the same time as to “disobjectify” ” does not mean to abandon the materiality of space. From the conceptual point of view it is about knowing the process of territorialisation or deterritorialization.

The territorialisation/deterritorialization process always involves land disputes. Territorialisation is carried out at the moment of occupation and two distinct types can be found: spontaneous occupation, made individually and gradually; and another one which is planned, organized by social movements, in an abrupt and collective manner. The arrival of spontaneous occupations usually involves previous acquaintances and their help in order to negotiate insertion into the community, sometimes including monetary relations (by - illegally - purchasing small spaces) and/or the cession of spaces occupied by others On the other hand, planned occupations involve more tension and violence, for they challenge the place of arrival by suddenly establishing new relations of spatial domain. As for deterritorialisations, use of violence and force are quite common, as is the case of favela removals, evictions of homeless people and street vendors, prohibition of street prostitution, among others.

Once understood these notions which mark the concept of territory and territoriality construction, the Arvoredo Community can be presented as a “nanoterritory”, such term used by Souza M. (2009), designating extremely reduced spaces which are filled with disputes, whose scale shows very small borders.

2.2. Urban Space and Favela

Cities are occupied in different ways by agents that act, shape and reshape urban space. According to Roberto Lobato Corrêa there are five main urban space production agents: 1) means of production owners; 2) landowners; 3) promoters and real estate; 4) the State; 5) excluded social groups (CORRÊA, 1989). The present study works with the following two agents: the State and excluded social groups.

As for the State, its operation happens in multiple ways. In addition to being a consumer and large landowner it is also promoter and regulator of large portions of the urban space - through laws (Master Plans) - and supervisor of its own sanctioned rules. Its action takes place in three political, administrative and spatial levels: federal, state e municipal; the present study addresses the municipal sphere.

The excluded individuals are unable to have their social recognition within material and symbolic spheres, and this hindrance is supported by a society of the included ones. (SOUZA J, 2009). The excluded individuals who compose Brazilian favelas have no access to adequate income (as they struggle to obtain formal employment) and thus are supressed from the housing finance system, with difficulty to reach basic services, reduced possibilities of proper education and, within this scenario, are exposed to marginal and police violence, in a sequence of social usurpations which never stop (MARICATO, 2003).

It is in the making of favelas, in public or private lands, in preservation and/or risky areas that the socially excluded effectively become urban modelling agents, producing their own space (CORREA, 1989, p.30) and establishing their peculiar urban form. By doing so, they inevitably produce new power games, as well as environmental, social and legal conflicts.

In areas of irregular occupation, the homogeneity of urban road design and the labyrinthine aspect they assume are ways in which they contribute to delimit territoriality (in relation to the neighbourhood, for instance). These routes may delimit the physical boundaries of a locality (a dead-end street or a strategic entrance to a village or settlement), which ends up circumscribing/restricting the territoriality of a group.

Inside the favelas police intervention is quite common. By taking Rio de Janeiro’s Pacifying Police Units (UPPs) as an example, the result of police actions corroborates the vision of a state which controls circulation, acting in order to meet the expectations of ruling classes, especially those of real estate market (BARBOSA, 2012).

Lacerda (2015) has conducted research on favelas which pointed out police’s veiled mission by strengthening ideologies in order to maintain the hegemony of the ruling class and “consolidate state control over communities under the influence of criminal groups”, which helps enhance this population’s negative image.

Furthermore, according to this author, discourses on favelas made by some sections of political society describe community owners as the real culprits of the situations in which they live (lack of housing) and thus perpetuate poverty (by not recognizing the community’s necessities as legitimate) and strengthen social segregation.

In Florianópolis this scenario is no different, “it is common to see the names of these favelas in the newspapers, in the crime section. Certainly the great majority of people living in favelas are not criminals, but a small part of them is brought up in this environment” (MIRANDA, 2001, p. 85). Canella highlights the connection of police operations in favelas, contributing to “associate the image of their residents with the image of ‘marginals’, ‘criminals’, ‘lawless’,’ idle’, ‘drug dealers’ categories which deny the universe of work and order” (CANELLA, 2015, p. 236).

2.3. Risks in irregular occupations

The precariousness of favelas and their usual location within environmental protection/permanent preservation and/or risky areas presents additional difficulties to a population that is already so poor, constituting complex socio-environmental implications.

Cities are producing a disastrous social instability, leading to further environmental decline. Despite the global increase in wealth, far in excess of population growth, poverty and the number of poor people have risen worldwide. Many of them are living in the most unfavourable environments, exposed to extreme levels of environmental poverty, thus perpetuating the cycle of destruction and pollution. [...]. Therefore, since social and environmental issues are intertwined, it should not be surprising the fact that societies and cities, characterized by inequalities, suffer intense social deprivation and cause even greater damage to the environment (ROGERS; GUMUCHDJIAN, 2012 [2001], p.7).

Irregularly occupied urban settlements present several vulnerabilities. Guimarães et al. (2012) point out that favelas are marked by imminent risk, for they suffer with the absence of urban infrastructure as well as the lack of formalization in basic services added to environmental degradation. Burstzyn and Burstzyn (2013) recall that subnormal urban clusters are those which suffer the most with the improperly named, natural disasters (floods caused by river sedimentation, bigger rainwater discharge due soils waterproofed by cement or asphalt) and risk situations (occupation of steep slopes without vegetation cover or mobile sand dune areas).

3. Research methodology - “Arvoredo Community” case analysis

This research is part of a multidisciplinary study on housing in risk areas, promoted by a group of students in the field of Territorial Planning, according to different points of view. It consists of a mixed approach between quantitative and qualitative research, with case study design. Several data collection techniques were included: fieldwork (visits and participant observations), application of semi-structured interviews and survey questionnaires, focused interviews with community leaders and public managers related to the case (with subsequent content analysis using SPHINX Lexica software) and, lastly, documental analysis (documents of diverse nature) and map production (by using ARCGIS e AUTOCAD software).

Fieldwork included two visits to the community, accompanied by the area’s social worker. In the first visit, on August 2016, eight PhD students, two Master’s students, two social workers and a professor went to the site. In this field ambience was verified through photographic gatherings, mapping and focused interviews with two senior residents of the community. In the second visit, on October 2016, four PhD students, two auxiliaries and a social worker went to the site. The survey questionnaire was applied, with coverage of 43 families, as well as a focused interview with a community leader was made and geographic data was collected (mapping). On September 2016 three semi-structured interviews were conducted outside the community environment, with government officials involved in housing issues.

The script for the semi-structured interviews and the questionnaire was organized in 57 questions divided in six themes: identification profile, family characterization, housing, income, environment, territory and social context. The application of the questionnaire was done by family and the researchers distributed themselves around the community in order to enhance coverage. In the approaches the speeches of the interviewees were also recorded; this material helped in understanding the contradictions between the research and reality.

Photographic gatherings were conducted to identify aspects of ambience, space appropriation, territoriality and conflicts.

4. Arvoredo Community

4.1. Territorialisation process

In Florianópolis 63% of the territory is composed by mangroves and sand dunes as well as 25 conservation units, in other words only 20% of remaining area is buildable, however urbanizable areas are dominated by real estate speculation, and in this environment the low income population is not taken into account. “Meanwhile, permanent preservation areas are invaded by favelas, clandestine settlements and even high-standard houses” (MIRANDA, 2001, p.68).

Arvoredo Community is a case of an occupation within a preservation area, with its first residents arriving on Rua do Siri [Sand-crab Street]5 - at the end of the 1970s and, with a moderate initial growth, had only 30 families until 1986; this number, however, had already risen to 89 families by 1996 (THIBES, 2014). According to Florianópolis City Hall (PMF, 2014), from the 1990s and over a period of 15 years, its growth was exponential, reaching 221 families in 2005.

It was exactly in the 1990s that the “first complaint” was filed in the Federal Public Ministry (MPF), which was “notified of the occurrence of environmental damage due to sand dune occupation at the end of Rua do Siri” (THIBES, 2014, p. 183). The MPF recommended to the city hall and other public agencies the adoption of applicable administrative and/or legal measures. The city hall diagnosed the situation and, in 1999, identified 127 houses and 438 inhabitants transmitted this information to FLORAM [Florianópolis Municipal Environmental Foundation] and, in 2001, suggested removal and resettlement of families; however, they soon added that they did not have enough budgetary resources for such purpose (THIBES, 2014).

Florianópolis’ public housing policies have obstacles which prevent resources from reaching their recipients. According to Miranda (2001, p.51), “in a federal [...] program for low-income, it was only possible to apply 20% of the budget allocated to Florianópolis [...] the requirements were so high that the cost per housing unit far exceeded the stipulated maximum costs [...]”.

Even without adequate policies this community continues to grow, determined and encouraged by the arrival of families that settled in the region in search of work, reflecting a migratory movement which determines Florianópolis’ urban expansion, in face of real estate speculation and price of lands and housing (ALVES; BAENINGER, 2008). This migratory effect is evidenced by the results obtained in the field research carried out on 10/15/2016 in which 100% of the community residents are migrants, 30.23% from other cities in Santa Catarina state, 27.91% from Paraná state, 25.58% from Rio Grande do Sul state and 16.28% from other locations (a highlight for the region of Bahia state must be made). These migrants reported that their arrival to Florianópolis was motivated mainly by search for work (49%) and quality of life (19%). A few others even revealed that their migration is defined by the invitation of family members and friends who are already established in the region.

The way in which they establish is marked by the informal market: occupiers in the favelas create ways to negotiate spaces and houses (considering materials and upgrading), creating transactions which involve purchase, sale and rent. Nonetheless, these residents suffer the same kinds of abuse present in the formal market; however they cannot count with legal protection, expanding the problem of poverty (SUGAI, 2009). In a study made by Sugai, in 2005, within Florianópolis’ conurbation, an active informal market was found, with emphasis on the insular and central region rent negotiations, and it was evidenced this practice is connected to localization, presence of work and infrastructure (SUGAI, 2009).

However, in the case of Arvoredo Community, what was found in the study was that only 5% of residents lived for rent, the others reported living in homes of their own. Another point is the intervention of local leaders in reallocation or new facilities. One of the residents described a case: “This one here was in the area where water invaded his house, then it was needed to take him from there to be put here, they always have these kinds of deals. [...] But if someone comes here out of the blue [...], they will get into conflict [...]”. (Community resident).

From 2000 the community initiated a process of more active participation, leading to the creation of Arvoredo Village Residents Association (AMOVILA). As the original community name was seen as unpleasant by its residents, this association sought to change the denomination from “favela” to “community”, and because it is located in a sand dune area filled with trees on its borders, the space began to be called “Arvoredo Community” [as ‘Arvoredo’ is related to ‘árvore’, word in Portuguese for ‘tree’] (GRANDO, 2011; PMF, 2014). At times, however, the press, the neighbourhood and citizens of Florianópolis and even public power continued to use the name Favela do Siri, which, implicitly carries a derogatory power, embarrassing residents when they need to reveal their residential address (as in an employment registry).

The expansion of the community is followed by serious social-environmental problems, being a sand dune area; it is witnessed in one hand the destruction of dune vegetation, while on the other hand the burying of houses by the sand, which is in constant movement. In the left map of Figure 1the extension of the occupation throughout the years, namely 2003, 2009 and 2016, is demarcated. As it can be observed, with regard to the south border, the occupation shrank from 2003 to 2009 due to houses that were buried by sand from the dunes. The photos show the environmentally vulnerable areas: wetlands and mobile sand dunes (Figures 1A e 1B).

Source: Produced by the authors based on a field visit made in August 2016.

Base: Aerial photographs from PMF (2003 and 2009) and Google Earth (2016).

Figure 1: Community expansion (map) and continuous insertion in areas of greater environmental vulnerability (photo A- wetlands; photo B- mobile sand dunes). 

As a result from uprooting from other territorial realities (namely, rural areas), the population ignores the natural dynamics of this new occupation and defend their houses by placing rubble in the dune direction, as a way of containing sand advance, believing this can serve as protection, but this results in greater environmental and social degradation.

On the other hand, despite being at risk, the occupation expanded through the dunes to the north, in 2009, and then to north and west between 2009 and 2016.

In this dynamic of expansion, cases were identified where one house is inhabited by a couple (father and mother) and nearby each of their children occupy another house. One of the interviewees revealed that, despite having a house of his own in the community, there are no sanitary facilities in it, thus he does not live there, “in fact, I live with my parents because my shack does not make me able to stay there”. When questioned on the reason he keeps this dwelling, he reveals he expects to be individually considered in the city’s Social Interest Housing Program.

Regarding socio-economic profile, the Arvoredo Community gives home, notably, to the socially excluded, a category proven by the data collected in a field research carried out on 10/15/2016. The surveyed group represents 30% of total families in the community, which allows for a good representation of it. Of the interviewees, 56% are over 35 years old and the average number of residents per household is 3.6. Regarding education, 54% did not finish elementary school and there were no people found with higher education. On income, 21% had none, 16.26% earned up to R$ 600.00, 39.51% earned between R$ 601.00 and R$ 1000.00 and 23.23% an income between R$ 1001.00 and R$ 1400.00. This condition shows what Maricato (2003) described about the socially excluded: those without access to income, no access to education, no access whatsoever.

4.2. Differentiation dynamics

Around the community it was possible to map, within a range of 3.3km (Figure 2), much basic infrastructure equipment which is used by the residents: health, education and social support services. Only leisure facilities are deficient, a situation partially offset by the community’s proximity to the beach.

Source: Produced by the authors. Base: PMF data (2012), field visit, interviews and questionnaire application in 10/15/16 and Google Earth (2016).

Figure 2: Community location and basic infrastructure distribution. 

According to the zoning made by Florianópolis’ City Hall, promulgated by municipal law number 2,193 from 1985 (PMF, 2012) and presented in Figure 2, it can be seen that, within the APP area, are found both the illegal dwelling of Arvoredo Community and houses that, despite being located in an APP, own some document registered in a notary and have basic infrastructure services; on the other hand, the yellow patch named “residential area” is not part of the APP.

Regarding the houses within the APP but that do not belong to Arvoredo Community, they are located in an area of consolidated sand dune and thus do not suffer with sand movement. As identified in the research there are cases of conflicts between the community and the neighbours (described by community residents as the authors of complaints to authorities). Grando (2011, p.131) portrays this area as a case of “public power connivance, for the dwellings, despite built [in the APP], have electricity, running water and pay taxes.” Still on these buildings, it is interesting to compare to compare the pattern (Figure 3) which, despite being presented only in an aerial photograph, whose scale does not allow a more detailed observation, one can easily distinguish the difference of pattern of the buildings in Arvoredo Community and its legalized neighbourhood, which also occupies the APP. Both were formed at the same time, between 1977 and 1994, according to the maps available in the Corporate Geoprocessing online system (PMF, 2017).

Source: Produced by the authors based on Google Earth images (2016).

Figure 3: Social discrepancy between Arvoredo Community and its surroundings 

4.3. Urban morphology of the favela: layout and demarcation

Arvoredo Community presents an urban layout which reflects the characteristic occupation of favelas. By observing this layout it is possible to identify less rectilinear pathways, being arranged along and/or around the dwellings, combining dead ends with connected roads. An orthogonal design can be seen in the neighbouring dwellings (Figure 4 - upper right corner map). Such design somehow closes on itself, reducing the view to the outside, serving as a hiding place/shelter in some points, but also presenting several exit/escape points. It is a design that reflects and helps defining a territory different from its neighbourhood, which may be linked to the social exclusion reality of this type of community.

Source: Produced by the authors. Base: Google Earth (2016), collected data through field visit on 10/15/16, interview application, questionnaire and participant observation.

Figure 4: Paths and occupations in Arvoredo Community 

The nature of the circulation roads is precarious, with unpaved ground, sand and rubble. In many points circulation is allowed only for pedestrians but, even in these inaccessible places for automobiles, it is possible to find them parked, contributing to sand dune degradation. In some parts, where the soil is completely sandy, the community has built paths with wooden boards (Figure 4- photo B) and in others, which have the same appearance, these paths do not exist and access is made on loose sand or rubble. (Figure 4 - photo A).

In order to demarcate properties, the residents resort to various materials. Approximately 70% of the houses in the community is delimited by some kind of fence and, in most cases, metal mesh and wood are used, but it was possible to identify some other solutions. In Figure 5 (A, B e C) the barrier is made using refrigerators and they serve as pots for planting vegetables, also tyres are used for both spatial expansion and vegetable gardening; these are some of the devised to protect spaces and demarcate their spatial boundaries.

Source: Produced by the authors based on a field visit made in 08/25/16.

Figure 5: Social demarcation and environmental conflicts 

4.4. Environmental conflicts in the “illegal” Arvoredo

Regarding basic infrastructure in the place it is possible to find many situations of environmental conflicts, especially in water and electricity supply which is implemented through an illicit connection made from public services.

The implementation of these connections has no technical support or maintenance, turning this action into another case of social and environmental vulnerability. When irregular connections are made in utility poles, the controller may be killed by electric shock. Then, when these connections are taken to dwellings with poor installations and materials, they might generate fires such as the one witnessed in one of the field visits (Figure 5-E), when the fire consumed an entire house in less than thirty minutes. In the case of water supply waste it is what usually happens, with pipes which get lost by the sands (Figure 5-F) in fragile connections that break and let water flow freely (Figure 5-H).

Hygiene is also a concern. A few times cleaning efforts were carried out in the dunes, organized by FLORAM and with the assistance of the fire brigade, Housing Secretariat and community involvement.

General waste collecting is done in specific points around the community (only at the borders)), there are also selective waste collection bins (an accomplishment of the community leaders - Figure 5-I), but there is no such collection in the site. There is also a recycling shed installed at the entrance of the community, benefiting local waste collectors who do the waste separation.

But despite these resources, it is still possible to find waste and rubble randomly discarded within the community. There are families who accumulate “heavy rubble” with their belongings, occupying road spaces and sides of houses, creating conflict between the residents (Figure 5 - J e L), for they not only damage common space, but also bring health hazard and accentuate sand dune degradation.

Another conflict regarding waste happens between local dwellings and those of the surroundings. According to reports, there are situations in which homeowners from the surroundings try to leave their waste inside the community, generating arguments between the residents: “I argued with the neighbours and all, they threw a lot of garbage on the floor [...] instead of putting his trash in front of his house, he would put everything here [...] now they put another sofa there, now I already put a note there for the person to take the sofa back to his place” (male, 63 years old, community resident for 20 years).

In addition to human actions bringing damage to the local ecosystem and its inhabitants, they are also affected by natural dynamics that can constitute threats. Thus, for example, the sand dune system has got flooded parts, in some of which there are dwellings that, in addition to suffering with the action of water that enters their houses, also receive inadequately dumped waste and, with this, increase chances of contracting diseases. From the environmental conflicts it is important to highlight that residents described respiratory problems due to the sand dunes, which are constantly moving, leaving the air with suspended material (GRANDO, 2011).

5. Territoriality in Arvoredo

In this field of “illegality”, factors such as the informality of land use and its natural resources, associated with the urban layout favour the control of the place by organized crime.

Throughout the fieldwork, residents were questioned on the existence of blocked pathways and 88% reported that traffic is free. However, during data collection, many of them made body signals, demonstrating that the answer does not correspond to reality. One of them went on to say: “The best thing is to keep the secret to ourselves and tell it to the right person, I am here, I see it all and I see nothing”. The few statements that explicitly affirmed there are road blocks have said that this is only for cars of strangers to the community, for the residents’ cars can circulate. Even social workers and other bodies that try to enter the community by car are blocked.

To better describe the circumstances, the testimony of a resident follows: “[...] a strange car entered once, they’re going to verify if it is a case of people who live there or not [...] if they speak like this... - I’m going to the place of so-and-so. They open the block [...] but on the contrary they begin to release fire and everything. It happened once of a public health agent come check the problem of a kid there, a car from the city hall [...] got there and they pointed a gun to the man and made the man leave there in a hurry [...] There wasn’t any of this before, but lately it’s complicated (Arvoredo Community resident).

Plenty of evidence collected through fieldwork confirmed the existence of control and surveillance mechanisms administered by the organized crime operating in the community. Thus, when the researchers were in the field, in both visits, they were followed by a group of men who seemed to be “watchdogs”. In the first visit to the site, the presence of some students as well as the occurrence of a fire (the arrival of the fire brigade) established a scenario of “invaders” and fireworks were released as an alert. In the second visit, a member of the research group was approached with violence, searched and forced to leave the community. It was possible to find some blocked streets (Figure 4 - map) with rubble and in them there were men who did the control of who could access the community; they were probably the so-called “fogueteiros” (lookouts who send alerts by using fireworks).

This blockade to street access is also carried out in moments of crisis, by residents from the community, when they feel at threat of losing their homes, such as the confrontation occurred in 04/19/2016, in which the population set up barricades to prevent the Military Police entrance.6

The presence of “organized crime” is evident in the community, whether by providing some kind of “service” (food donations, passage and help through hitchhiking in moments of urgency), whether by doing the “protection”. However, not only of supposed “benefits” is this relationship about, for it is common to see “fear” demonstrations of some deponents, including reports of families who moved out from the community due to conflicts with drug dealing members.

In Figure 4 it is highlighted the location of two houses that were destroyed due to conflicts of such nature (the location of these dwellings was marked in the map of Figure 4 and identified by symbols presented in the caption). One of them caught fire which was set by the homeowner herself, so that nobody else could make use of the material and space built by her.

Within the framework of family neighbourhoods (internal context) there was an attempt to identify the existence of disagreements and, once again, the answers distanced themselves a little from what direct observation suggests. Thus, 72% of the families answered there were no problems, but it was visible the presence of caution and fear when it came to respect to the fragility of land demarcation, occupation of common areas and supposedly abandoned houses.

Internal disorder regarding new occupations is accompanied by internal and external violence. In a dialogue between two interviewees it was possible to observe the pressures lived by members of the community, who try to prevent “new dwellings”. “. A resident mentioned the risk of such behaviours: “your physical integrity, your life comes first. It isn’t because of a piece of land that you will take risks” (Female, 55 years old, resident for over 20 years).

An old community leader reported having suffered threats for not submitting himself to “certain commands” and today he suffers harassment for being an active person in the community, despite no longer being the official leader. .

It seems that the residents of such places need survival strategies in order to maintain a good relationship with drug dealing representatives. This condition is not a choice, but rather a matter of survival, as once pointed out by Souza M. when he affirmed: “It is needed to admit that community leaders usually have no alternative: if they do not [recognize drug dealers] as the maximum decision-making power in the place and, thus, perhaps maintaining a minimum room for manoeuvre” (SOUZA M, 2010, p.72).

At this juncture, violence is a growing presence in Florianópolis, as numbers of death by murder tripled between (52 deaths) and 2017 (148 deaths), according to the state’s Public Security Sector (SSP- SC, 2018). Arvoredo Community is constantly mentioned in the local media when it comes to violence and organized crime, as stated by Sayuri (2017): “The [violent] crimes [in Florianópolis] are concentrated in the neighbourhoods of Ingleses (in the north of the island, where Favela do Siri is located) and Monte Cristo [...]”.

The relationship between the police (military and civil) with the community results in intense confrontation. Community policing approaches, identified between 2016 and 2017, had the objective of combating drug dealing and support FLORAM and PMF in house demolitions (justified by the illegality of dwellings within APPs), in other words, violent approaches which bring greater vulnerability to the population.

The actions of PMF, through FLORAM and Housing Secretariat contribute to form a negative image of Arvoredo Community, identified by the media as a dangerous area of “drug dealers and criminals” 7. This narrative thus justifies the inefficiency o demolition actions and cooperates to cover up public power’s responsibility of providing decent housing for low-income population - whose right is, in fact, provided by the Federal Constitution.

6. Final considerations

The main objective of this study was to analyse the main characteristics of the territorial formation of Arvoredo Community, relating them to the action of the agents involved in the building of the territory and the resulting socio-environmental conflicts. The issue of territoriality was defined and presented from the perspective of spatial production and spatial projection of power relations. It was through this point of view that Arvoredo Community was analysed, as built through relations between two more or less identifiable groups: 1) the community (formed by old and new residents, as well as members of the organized crime); 2) public power (PMF, FLORAN, local water and electricity companies, Military Police and others).

The space and social relations are at the base of the formation of these fragile areas, are the human actions based on capitalist development, which generate the socio-environmental injustice, faced in the cities. It is in this scenario that the territorial dynamics within Arvoredo Community occur, and it is important to point out here the role of social excluded groups, one of the agents of this phenomenon.

The agent “community” starts to settle in the dunes of Ingleses neighbourhood in an APP and, by doing so, adopts improper survival practices by using unpaid basic resources in the illegal city (water and electricity). The agent “public power” does not intervene supplying the place with basic services, for its role is also to protect the environment and to comply with legislation. Its action should be of removing and relocating these occupations; which also goes through another screening of protecting the community itself from imminent risks (dune movement, floods and landslides), but also to remove higher income populations that get close to Arvoredo and that - like this community - disrespect the environmental legislation without, however, suffer discrimination nor risk of being evicted as it happens in Arvoredo. A sequence of actions from diverse agents that, instead of working towards a solution, hold themselves to the problem and contribute to its perpetuation.

Arvoredo Community represents, as seen above, a nanoterritory of socially excluded groups whose organization expose the erosion of socio-spatial and political fabric in the city of Florianópolis. It is common to residential neighbourhoods considered to be favelas present environmental degradation and political abandonment. In the case of Arvoredo Community, the proximity to Ingleses Beach, very frequented by tourists in hotels, inns and resorts, and with important portions of middle and upper-middle class dwellings makes local power have an interest in its removal.

The agent “public power”, in this case represented by officials from Municipal Housing Secretariat and also by city councillors who visit the community in election period (giving out promises and collecting votes), create hope of home ownership. A dynamic which contributes to favela expansion by spreading the news among their family members, who then try to ensure a share of “sand” within the community.

Arvoredo residents live exposed to all kinds of violence, secured by public power and by society as a whole. These areas and their occupiers bear the weight and responsibility of socio-environmental conflicts that criminalized their residents, already susceptible to the abuse of organized crime. The latter, in turn, takes the place of the State by promoting a controversial relationship that mixes support, threat and protection to which the majority of the residents are submitted.

Thus, social conflicts from which Arvoredo is a result have the undoubted participation of the State that, instead of guaranteeing constitutional rights of housing, contribute to the intensification of conflicts insofar as it adopts a blasé stance8 towards middle and upper-middle class housing in protected areas, at the same time in which it does not guarantee minimum housing to the most vulnerable populations.

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1. We here express our sincere thanks to those involved, without whom the present study would not have been possible.

5. Reason why the cluster started being called “Favela da Rua do Siri” [Sand-crab Street Favela], later just “Favela do Siri” [Sand-crab Favela].

6. News in the media:

7, Action disclosed in the media:;

8.Blasé attitude is what Simmel (1979) calls as a psychological shield in order to protect urban individuals’ mental and behavioural structure, bombarded by changes and conflicts in such a way that they produce lethargy which stops them from amazing themselves, naturalizing terrifying situations.

Received: August 08, 2017; Accepted: March 21, 2019

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