email a friend
printable version
Location Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba (to Netherlands), Bonaire
Central coordinates 68o 16.00' West  12o 3.00' North
IBA criteria A4i, B4i
Area 6,851 ha
Altitude 0 - 10m
Year of IBA assessment 2007

Site description The flat low-elevation southern end of the island contains the Pekelmeer, once a series of natural shallow lagoons, that have been modified over hundreds of years for salt production. For the last 50-60 years, the area has been more greatly modified for large-scale industrial salt production so that water levels are tightly controlled within a series of condenser lagoons for maximum salt production through evapotranspiration. Most of the area (perhaps over 90% is now under active management for salt production) but within the managed area is a 55 hectare area designated as Flamingo Breeding Reserve where the bulk of the Greater Flamingos nest on the island. Low bushes grow along the shores of some of the lagoons but the area is largely open with only low vegetation.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
American Flamingo Phoenicopterus ruber resident  2007  5,000 individuals  poor  A4i  Least Concern 
Royal Tern Thalasseus maximus breeding  1999-2002  170-174 adults only  poor  B4i  Least Concern 
Sandwich Tern Thalasseus sandvicensis resident  1999  340 individuals  poor  B4i  Least Concern 
Common Tern Sterna hirundo breeding  2007  60 individuals  poor  A4i  Least Concern 
Least Tern Sternula antillarum breeding  2002  582 individuals  poor  B4i  Least Concern 


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Coastline Intertidal mud, sand & salt flats  -
Shrubland Arid lowland scrub  minor
Forest Mangrove  -

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
urban/industrial/transport -
nature conservation and research -

Protection status Much or most of the IBA is government-owned but is leased to the commercial saltworks company. However, a 55 ha area has been set-aside since 1969 as a flamingo reserve where the birds nest. A section along the southwest side has been proposed as a “Strict Reserve” and the remainder (excluding the crystallizer basins for the saltworks on the western side) as an “Island Park” in the Bonaire Nature Management Plan 1999-2004. Pekelmeer and the flamingo reserve are designated as a Ramsar site.

Further web sources of information 

Site profile from Important Bird Areas in the Caribbean: key sites for conservation (BirdLife International 2008)

References Ligon (2005);De Freitas et al.(2005);Debrot (2006);Rooth (1965);Voous (1983);Wells, J. V. and A. C. Wells (2006).

Contribute  Please click here to help BirdLife conserve the world's birds - your data for this IBA and others are vital for helping protect the environment.

Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2014) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Pelkermeer Saltworks, Bonaire. Downloaded from on 31/08/2014

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife