September 9, 2019 - Ulcinj Salina has been listed on the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance. Bird lovers and eco-activists around the world could be satisfied with the great victory of their Montenegrin colleagues.
"The Site (Ulcinj Salina) on the Adriatic coast, close to the border with Albania, is the largest salina (saltpan) in the Adriatic. It was constructed in the 1930s, and salt production stopped in 2013. The Site is divided into several areas which had different purposes in the salt production process, such as crystallization and evaporation. They are now mostly covered by grassland, halophyte vegetation, and reeds.
Ulcinj Salina is the most important wintering, nesting and feeding site for birds on the eastern coast of Adriatic and a key stopover site for birds migrating on the Adriatic Flyway. Overall, 252 bird species have been recorded in the Site, 20 of them globally threatened. In addition, one endangered amphibian (Albanian water frog), one reptile (European pond turtle) and one mammal (European otter) are present.
Due to halting salt production, the Site is at risk of losing the halophyte vegetation, which would be substituted with more common vegetation types, negatively affecting the biodiversity which it supports." Ramsar official website launched on Wednesday, September 4.
Environmental NGOs have been fighting for the protection of Ulcinj Salina for decades. Most notable are the efforts of the Center for Research and Protection of Birds and Dr.Martin Schneider-Jacoby Association. But, only the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism had the competence to seek for its international recognition and protection.
The decision on the candidacy of Ulcinj Salina for the Ramsar List came after the site was declared a Nature Park at the session of the Municipal Assembly of Ulcinj, held on June 24, 2019. With the recent proclamation, after Skadar Lake, enrolled in 1995, and Solila in Tivat which have been on the Ramsar list since 2013, Salina became the third wetland in Montenegro of global importance.
"This is further evidence that the decades-long efforts and commitment of the NGO sector were in place. We had a right warning that Ulcinj Salina is the jewel that deserves adequate protection," Zenepa Lika, MSJA President, told Total Montenegro News. Dr. Martin Schneider-Jacoby Association is an organization dedicated to the study of value and insisting on the protection of Ulcinj's salt works.
"Being part of internationally protected wetlands is a title of great importance for promoting Ulcinj and the whole of Montenegro in the most positive light," Zenepa Lika emphasizes and adds:
"As always, it is up to us whether we will devote ourselves to protecting and adequately revitalizing Ulcinj's salt works. It is not enough to formally protect the area. We have to take adequate measures to maintain and manage it according to world standards. The enrollment in the Ramsar List opens the door for all of us to seek international assistance, both financial and expert, to help restore this artificial ecosystem. Ulcinj Solina is a rare example where human impact has contributed to the richness of biodiversity," says Zenepa.
Listing of Ulcinj Salina on the Ramsar List is an important step, but just one along the way of the ecosystem's revitalization, emphasizes Zenepa.
"Physical protection is necessary, but not sufficient. The most natural and sustainable way to revitalize the area is to engage field workers and restart the salt production," concludes Zenepa Lika, MSJA President.
Ramsar is the oldest of the modern global intergovernmental environmental agreements. The treaty was negotiated through the 1960s by countries and non - governmental organizations concerned about the increasing loss and degradation of wetland habitat for migratory waterbirds. It was adopted in the Iranian city of Ramsar in 1971 and came into force in 1975.
The Ramsar Convention encourages the designation of sites containing representative, rare or unique wetlands, or wetlands that are important for conserving biological diversity. Once designated, these sites are added to the Convention's List of Wetlands of International Importance and become known as Ramsar sites.
The network of Ramsar Sites is truly global, and includes coastal and inland wetlands of all types in all six Ramsar regions.
The world's first Site was the Cobourg Peninsula in Australia, designated in 1974. The largest Sites are Ngiri-Tumba-Maindombe in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Queen Maud Gulf in Canada. Others are as small as one hectare.
The countries with the most Sites are the United Kingdom with 175 and Mexico with 142. Bolivia has the largest area with 148,000 km2 under Ramsar protection; Canada, Chad, Congo and the Russian Federation have also each designated over 100,000 km2.