Europe and Central Asia
20 Jun 2018

Save Salina: hotel complex threatens waterbird paradise

Ulcinj Salina is a traditional salt pan whose shallow waters feed and support more than 250 bird species. However, recent proposals to build a large-scale tourism resort threaten to obliterate it.

Ulcinj Salina is a key habitat for the Greater Flamingo
Ulcinj Salina is a key habitat for the Greater Flamingo
By Janinka Lutze & Stefan Ferger

Sign the petition here to help us save this unique wetland.

Traditional salt pans are one of the rare examples of a man-made landscape that is absolutely brilliant for birds. The shallow, briny waters at Ulcinj teem with thousands of them: Greater Flamingos Phoenicopterus roseus, Black-winged Stilts Himantopus himantopus and Dalmatian Pelicans Pelecanus crispus are just a few of the species that rely upon its feeding grounds. But their future started to look precarious when salt production closed down.

The salt works in Ulcinj had successfully produced salt for almost 70 years, when it was privatized in 2005. By then, the company Eurofond bought 75% of the shares of Solana Ulcinj for just 800,000 euros. Afterwards Eurofond started winding down the business until the salt-making company “Bajo Sekulić” declared bankruptcy. About 400 people of the region lost their jobs and their tradition of salt production. In addition, unknown criminals have destroyed and stolen some of the pumps. As the pumping-in and circulation of sea water is disrupted, the former salt basins gradually become fresh water habitat. Now, thousands of birds are in danger of losing an important resting and nesting site. The salt pan is home to more than 250 bird species, including a wealth of waders.

The Dalmatian Pelicans relies on the Salina for winter feeding © Bence Mate / Agami

Since 2011, Eurofond has been planning to sell Ulcinj Salina to big investors for the development of a luxury tourism resort with a golf course, a spa and a marina. This would destroy the ecosystem and habitats completely.

Montenegro is a candidate for membership of the European Union. And although the European Commission has been urging the Montenegrin Government to protect Ulcinj Salina for its conservation importance since 2015, this has not been done so far. The salt pan is a candidate for the Emerald Network of Areas of Special Conservation Interest and fulfils six of the nine criteria to become a Ramsar Wetland of International Significance; still the Montenegrin Government has not submitted the applications. Only a national and international protection status can prevent further attempts for infrastructure projects in the salt pan.

In April this year the Montenegrin Minister for Sustainable Development and Tourism, Pavle Radulović, promised to initiate the declaration of Ulcinj Salina as a Nature Park, and to restore the salt production and the ecological viability of the area. The Minister promised to initiate this process until mid-May. As this has not happened, a coalition of NGOs has launched an international petition to increase the pressure on the Montenegrin Government and finally give Ulcinj Salina the protection it deserves. Restoring this traditional salt pan would not only benefit birds, but create hundreds of jobs in an industry that is bird-friendly and sustainable.

Add your voice to the #SaveSalina campaign by signing the petition here.


Stichting BirdLife Europe gratefully acknowledges financial support from the European Commission. All content and opinions expressed on these pages are solely those of Stichting BirdLife Europe. The European Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.