The #SaveSalina campaign aims at the protection of Ulcinj Salina in southern Montenegro. The salina is a nearly 15 km² large wetland area, which serves thousands of birds as resting and breeding site. Since 1935 salt was produced in Ulcinj Salina in a nature-friendly way, which benefited both migrating birds and local people. However, the salt harvest stopped in 2013 and since then initiatives exist to sell Ulcinj Salina and build a luxury hotel resort on the land.
Although the Government of Montenegro is aware about the importance of Ulcinj Salina for the local economy and the international bird migration, it did not show any interest in protecting the site and preventing its degradation. In order to give nature and people a voice, the international campaign #SaveSalina was set up. With international pressure we have a strong tool to push the government to act!
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Background information on the importance of Ulcinj Salina
Ulcinj Salina is a 1,492 ha salt works near the town of Ulcinj in southern Montenegro, close to the magnificent Adriatic coast. From 1935 on, salt production here provided employment for up to 400 people. However, following privatization in 2005, the salt factory was systematically degraded. Finally, in 2013, the last grain of salt was harvested and the salina’s workers were dismissed. Mismanagement of the abandoned infrastructure (e.g. its dikes and channels) has seen the salina rapidly deteriorate with each passing day. This hampers the water management in the salina drastically and consequently its ‘other’ function as an important breeding and resting site for hundred of thousands of migratory birds. Therefore, we call upon Mr. Duško Marković, Prime Minister of Montenegro, to ensure the timely revitalization of salt production in Ulcinj Salina.
The sheer extent of Ulcinj Salina’s wetland habitats and the high species diversity of its fauna and flora are unique for the eastern Adriatic region. Ulcinj Salina is the most important resting, wintering and breeding site for many species of waterbirds along the Adriatic Flyway. Thousands of individual birds, and more than 250 different species, rely on the salina each year, including Great Flamingos, Black-winged Stilts and Dalmatian Pelicans which come to feed in its shallow waters. Ulcinj Salina is also a habitat for many endangered species of fish, amphibians and reptiles, as well as saline plants. With such natural riches Ulcinj Salina was named a candidate Emerald Site under the Bern Convention in 2007. Yet, since then, no conservation measures have been taken to preserve its natural value. Since 2006, Ulcinj Salina has been known to fulfil six of the nine alternative criteria for designation as a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention, but the Government of Montenegro has still not applied for its nomination. As a candidate for EU membership, Montenegro cannot afford to lose Ulcinj Salina as a future jewel in the EU’s Natura2000 network of protected areas. Therefore, we call upon Mr. Duško Marković, Prime Minister of Montenegro, to secure the protection of Ulcinj Salina under national and international law.
Salt production in Ulcinj Salina was privatized for €800,000 in a non-transparent process in 2005, with the stakeholder Eurofond holding the majority of the shares. Since then, the salina has been deliberately run-down and Eurofond has, on several occasions, attempted to sell the land for hundreds of millions of Euros, claiming that they purchased not only the concession to harvest salt, but the land itself. Eurofond has presented Ulcinj Salina to international investors as a potential development site for a luxury tourist complex including golf courses, a marina and other amenities. Yet it remains unclear who actually owns Ulcinj Salina. To solve the ownership question, the Council for Privatization and Capital Projects of Montenegro, led by Prime Minister Marković, has to decide who legally owns the land. Therefore we call upon Mr. Duško Marković, Prime Minister of Montenegro, to safeguard that Ulcinj Salina remains the property of the Montenegrin people and is managed in the best interest of the country’s people and nature.