AbstractSerra da Tiririca State Park (Parque Estadual da Serra da Tiririca-PESET) is located in an area of rich environmental history between the cities of Niterói and Maricá in Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil. Established through grassroots lobbying and popular mobilization, it nevertheless hosted some mistakes that catalyzed social problems, which should have been otherwise dealt with during its creation process. We believe that social representations allow us to learn about the symbolic sphere of the social insertion of protected areas. On the one hand, the protected area is seen as a "paper park" and as a stage where confl icts related to real-estate speculation, land ownership and the political situation take place. Its positive image, on the other hand, refers to the political mobilization for its creation and to the community's vigilance. As a conclusion, the social representations must be understood so that its positive aspects may be highlighted, contribute to its regional incorporation and aid in the Park's management.
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