Huge hotel complex versus bird heaven

A spoonbill standing in the water

The Ulcinj salt flats are an important resting place for the rare spoonbill.

© Dietmar Nill

Valuable wetland threatened by mass tourism

International conference in Montenegro: Ulcinj salt flats receive broad backing

Press release: 14 April 2015

Radolfzell. “The Montenegrin government must now act as a matter of urgency. Otherwise the Ulcinj salt flats, one of the most important resting places for migratory birds along the eastern Adriatic, risks being irredeemably destroyed,” says Gabriel Schwaderer, head of the EuroNatur nature foundation. Together with the Centre for the Protection and Research of Birds in Montenegro (CZIP) and the municipality of Ulcinj, the foundation organised a conference in Podgorica from 8–9 April 2015 to promote the protection of the Ulcinj salt flats. Around 80 representatives from the worlds of environmental conservation, politics and commerce attended the event. Amongst them were Daliborka Pejovic, the Secretary of State for the Montenegrin Ministry for Sustainable Development and Tourism, Gudrun Steinacker, the German ambassador, and Alberto Cammarata representing the EU delegation in Montenegro. In a joint final declaration, all those attending emphasised the need for the Ulcinj salt flats to be placed under immediate protection. The Montenegrin government gave an assurance that they would take all necessary steps to save the natural treasures of the salt flats.

This internationally important wetland is in danger of falling victim to mass tourism: a marina, large hotel complexes and development t of chalets are all planned for it. The Montenegrin government and parliament decided as early as 2012 that the Ulcinj salt flats should be placed under protection. Yet this has never happened. EuroNatur is therefore urging Montenegro, a candidate for accession to the EU, to act on their words and prevent the Ulcinj salt flats being completely destroyed before the country potentially becomes a member of the EU.
There are many indications that there is a plan to make salt production on the Ulcinj salt flats impossible. For instance, last year large heavy pumps were stolen and destroyed. Both the current managing company Eurofonds and the insolvency administrator stood by and watched the sabotage. “The Montenegrin government must take a first step to ensure that the pumps are replaced and brought back into service to pump freshwater away from the salt flats and salt water onto them,” demands Gabriel Schwaderer. Because the saline plant is a prerequisite for guaranteeing the salt flats’ high value for nature conservation; it is only the annual flooding and subsequent slow drying out of the evaporation ponds that produce favourable conditions for breeding, resting and overwintering for water birds and waders. Time is running out. Already 40 to 60 per cent of the embankments on the salt flats have been destroyed by the present high water level. The further this destruction advances, the more difficult it will be to restart the production of salt. “The Ulcinj salt flats are not only a unique paradise for birds. They also offer great potential for sustainable nature tourism. It is now in the hands of the Montenegrin government to take this opportunity or to sacrifice this natural treasure in the interests of the profits of a small number of people,” says Gabriel Schwaderer.

Background information:

  • Ownership and usage rights for the Ulcinj salt flats are not transparent. The former state-run company of Solana “Bajo Sekuli?” AD Ulcinj was bought up by the Eurofonds company in 2005. In 2012, Solana “Bajo Sekuli?” AD Ulcinj became insolvent. Whether Eurofonds had for its part only acquired the state-run company of Solana “Bajo Sekuli?” AD Ulcinj together with rights of use for salt production on the salt flats for 800,000 EUR, or whether they acquired complete ownership rights to the 1,500 hectare area is currently being decided by the courts in Montenegro.
  • According to the Ramsar convention the Ulcinj wetland is of international importance. The Ulcinj salt flats also meet the EU criteria for a bird reserve.

Questions to: EuroNatur, Konstanzer Str. 22, 78315 Radolfzell, Tel.: 07732 - 92 72 10, Fax: 07732 - 92 72 22, E-Mail:, Internet:,
contact: Gabriel Schwaderer, press contact: Katharina Grund

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