The Saline of Ulcinj

by Dr phil Niels Peter Ammitzboell

The dispute over a jewel of nature in the south of Montenegro has lasted already several years. The tug-of-war is the preservation of one of the largest salt production facilities in Europe as staging and wintering area for migratory birds, the Saline of Ulcinj (Ulcinjska solana). The fate of the Saline seems indeed to be sealed already as the area was sold and the salt production lies idle. Without salt extraction activities the large area is not flooded any longer with seawater. The pools are drying up and the birds, as numerous and varied as they are in their appearance, stay out.

Anyone who has ever spent a day in the Saline and who could closely observe the ornithological features like the ones of the Stone Curlew, who has experienced the wind over the shallow water areas and the incessant cries of waders and terns around him, shall never again forget these fantastic impressions. The Osprey gets his victims, large groups of Greater Flamingos fly up again and again to soon stand back in the water, Kingfishers hunt the narrow water channels, small herds of sheep graze on the narrow dikes which separate the basins that are flooded regularly. Cows find their food on the wide grass edges of the Saline. The unique biotope of the Saline of Ulcinj is visited by touristic, ornithologically interested groups every year in spring. It is an integral part of an ornithological trip in Montenegro.
Unfortunately, this gem shall die. It shall give way to a large hotel complex, that recommends the mud and the salt from the Saline for “ecological” applications. That sounds nice, however,  smells of pure moneymaking. Montenegro has hotels and beaches enough. The beaches could be better maintained especially in the south.  More tourists would come and bring some money to the poor residents. Others, huge hotel facilities that call themselves ecological, such as the one in the north of Lake Skadar are empty. They are overpriced swank facilities, from which the residents hardly benefit.
With a good water management and some facilities for visitors as well as friendly tourist guides with bird knowledge the saline could be made again a wonderful place of recreation for men and birds.     •
(Translation Current Concerns)