Saltpan Recovery Project
BirdLife Partners along the East Atlantic Flyway have joined forces to save the precious saltpans of Southern Europe and Northern Africa, and the striking birds that rely on them to fuel their incredible journeys between the two continents. Millions of birds use the East Atlantic Flyway twice each year to move between their breeding and wintering grounds. On their long and hard journeys they need stopover sites to rest and feed. Greater Flamingo, Pied Avocet, Dunlin and many other migratory birds are reported to use the saltpans in great numbers.
Saltpans - artificial basins built for the purpose of extracting salt from water using natural evaporation - are crucial refuelling sites for these birds. Sadly, it is a man-made habitat that is disappearing fast. Companies and cooperatives don't see saltpans as a viable business anymore and the saltpans are being abandoned as a result. In the saltpans that do remain, pollution and disturbance are becoming common problems.
Our BirdLife Partners in Tunisia, Morocco, Spain, Portugal, France and the Netherlands have worked out a plan to save the saltpans and develop best practices for bird-friendly saltpan management. During the coming years we will work to remove vegetation and restore the dikes and pools that are crucial to birds and for a successful salt harvest.
Engaging with local communities, cooperatives and companies to improve the business case for salt harvest will be a central aspect to our work. Furthermore, we will be raising awareness and taking action to tackle water pollution and disturbance in areas near larger cities.
The project brochure below outlines some of the examples of bird-friendly managed saltpans that exist around the Mediterranean. We will tap into these examples, establish our own best practice and share them with saltpan operators along the global flyways.