Saline Ulcinj

Salt, water and Greater Spotted Eagles

© Martin Schneider-Jacoby
© Martin Schneider-Jacoby

A part of the Bojana-Buna Delta, the salt flats of Ulcinj in Montenegro with its 1 500 hectares are not only one of the largest salinas in the Mediterranean. The lagoon which was re-shaped to harvest salt is also the most important resting, breeding and wintering area for migratory birds on the east Adriatic coast. In particular the yearly flooding and the subsequent gradual drying of the evaporation ponds create valuable wetland habitats for numerous waders and waterbirds.

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Bird watchers certainly have their fill of sightings at the salt flats of Ulcinj: some years up to 200 Eurasian Spoonbills and 100 Dalmatian Pelicans come here to rest. Birds of prey such as Osprey European Honey Buzzard, Lesser Kestrel, Black Kite, Western Marsh-harrier, Greater Spotted Eagle and Peregrine Falcon are regular visitors. Also for rarer breeds from the cultivated countryside of our part of the world - such as Corn Bunting and Wood Lark - Solana Ulcinj is an important resting place. 

But this oasis for migratory birds is in jeopardy. There has been steadily mounting pressure from the tourist industry to allow investors to build on the land and “develop” it for their purposes. In addition the further operation of the Salt Works is endangered for economic reasons. And a particularly burning issue in Solana Ulcinj is bird hunting.

What actions are EuroNatur and its partners undertaking?

  • Fighting against bird hunting on the east Adriatic coast
  • Creating valuable data to argue the case: in 2002 already, working with its partners EuroNatur delivered evidence in black and white of the great ecological value of the Bojana-Buna Delta and neighbouring Ulcinj salt flats in this way providing the required arguments for the protection of the area.
  • Monitoring bird populations: if regular counts are held early information on changes can be gained.
  • Developing successful protection concepts: we have produced a management plan showing how to protect Solana Ulcinj effectively and how to use its great ecological potential in a way compatible with Nature.
  • Supporting the successful breeding of rare bird species: each season we erect appropriate platforms or nesting areas for Common Shelduck, European Roller, Little Tern, Little Owl and Hoopoe.
  • Enabling people to learn about the environment: to achieve the preservation of the Solana as a bird paradise we are setting up ways for visitors to sight and watch birds close up without disturbing them.

What we have achieved so far – a selection of important successes

  • The bird population at Solana Ulcinj has risen in the last few years.
  • In consultation with the management of the Salt Works EuroNatur has pushed through a ban on bird hunting.
  • In cooperation with the Solana Ulcinj Company and our local partners we are carrying out regular surveillance. This measure increases pressure on bird hunters to refrain from shooting birds.
  • In a former administrative building at the Salt Works the first Information Centre in Montenegro has been established.
  • An observation tower makes it possible to watch birds from close to without disturbing them. Groups are guided on bird tours through the Salt Works area regularly, as they have been since 2007.
  • The preconditions have been created for the Montenegrin government to submit an application for the nomination of Solana Ulcinj as a Ramsar area.
  • EuroNatur helped to bring Solana Ulcinj to international attention with the first Adriatic Flyway Conference in 2009. This was set up in close cooperation with the operators of the Salt Works there. In the course of an excursion representatives of the important institutions responsible for the protection of birds in Europe were able to form a first-hand picture of the outstanding value of the salt flats as a resting place for migrating birds.
  • In June 2012 the Montenegrin Ministry of Tourism and Sustainable Development decided to place the whole of Solana Ulcinj, with the exception of the buildings and salt pans, under conservation order as a Nature Reserve. It is to a great extent thanks to the many years of commitment and efforts of EuroNatur and its partners that this important step has been taken. However, it was just a first step. Due to the Montenegrin government's obstructionism, the area up to now has not been declared a nationally protected site in any way.

Partners: Solana Ulcinj, Centre for Bird Protection and Monitoring in Montenegro (CZIP)

Sponsors: Mava Foundation, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)


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Minutes of 2nd International Conference on the Protection of the Salina Ulcinj (April 2016, Podgorica)

Download (231 KB)

Report on the current situation of the Ulcinj Salina, January 2015, by CZIP and EuroNatur

Download (585 KB)

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