Salt is Life: Abandonment of Ulcinj Salina harms avifauna

++ EuroNatur calls for immediate protection of the saline in Ulcinj, Montenegro ++ Resuming salt production would open perspectives for both birds and people ++ 2nd of February is World Wetlands Day ++

Breeding flamingos in Ulcinj Salina, 2013 © Mihailo Jovicević / CZIP
After heavy rainfalls, large parts of the saline are covered with freshwater, which rapidly lowers the suitability of the area for salt-loving species like the flamingos. © CZIP
Salt production had a long tradition in Ulcinj Salina. For many years, it has been the most important employer in the region. © Martin Schneider-Jacoby / EuroNatur

Radolfzell. On the occasion of World Wetlands Day on February 2nd, nature conservation foundation EuroNatur calls attention to the gradual destruction of Ulcinj Salina in Southern Montenegro. This 1,500 hectares area is one of the most important resting and wintering grounds for a wide range of water bird species along all of the Adriatic coast. The saline is also a supraregionally outstanding breeding ground. However, due to a blockade by the Montenegrin government, the area is still not protected nationally.

After the consortium Eurofond took over the saline operation in 2005, no investments in the salt production were made any more. Consequently, the saline had to go out of business in 2014, with severe negative consequences for this valuable habitat. “The dams have to be serviced again and the water management guaranteed, otherwise the saline would lose its high ecological importance due to desalination”, explains EuroNatur project leader Dr. Stefan Ferger.

Therefore, EuroNatur not only calls for granting protection to the area, but also for resuming the salt business. “Here, salt production is the business that is most consonant with nature. By bringing the area into service, the saline would once again become the excellent habitat for rare bird species that it used to be until recently. People would benefit, too. The saline could become an important employer in the region again”, says EuroNatur campaigner Viviane Meyer.

The plans by Eurofond to build a hotel complex with 1,500 beds would irrevocable be the end of the saline as one of the most important wetlands along the Adriatic Flyway. EuroNatur CEO Gabriel Schwaderer sums up the problem: “A marvellous part of the European natural and cultural heritage is about to be sacrificed to satisfy the greed of a few. The Montenegrin government is in no way living up to its international nature conservation obligations. Against the background of EU accession talks, we also expect the European Commission to resolutely call on Montenegro to immediately protect the saline”.

 

Background information:

World Wetlands Day 2018: World Wetlands Day is celebrated every year on 2 February. This day marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands on 2 February 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar on the shores of the Caspian Sea.
Ulcinj Salina: EuroNatur has been fighting for the protection of the Ulcinj Salina for many years.
EuroNatur Award 2017: Last October the EuroNatur Award was given to Gudrun Steinacker, German ambassador to Montenegro 2014–2016, for her great personal commitment to save the Ulcinj Salina.

Contact details: Christian Stielow, e-mail: christian.stielow(at)euronatur.org, Tel.: +49 7732 - 927215

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