Salt flat restoration success
A group of scientists have set up a fund, SALARTE (Fund for the Stewardship and Recovery of the Salt Marsh), to reopen the historic saltpans around the Bay of Cadiz and Trocadero Island, to encourage wildlife and more employment to the area.
The area is an important migrant bird-resting area where birds flying between Europe and Africa in summer and autumn feed and rest. Modernisation and new technologies have caused the decline of the traditional collection of sea salt in this area in past years.
When the saltpans are left to decay, the area’s biodiversity declines, leaving less suitable habitats for birds and other wildlife.
In La Covacha Island, a part of Trocadero Island which is in the bay, two nesting platforms and several artificial perches for ospreys have been erected.
The restoration of the saltpans has increased suitable spawning grounds for fish and the food chain has improved. With the greater numbers of fish, the bird population increased with waders, spoonbills and ospreys moving to the area. Video cameras and a hide have been installed to monitor the osprey and spoonbill colonies that have settled on the island, but they are yet to breed.
The 10,522 hectare bay surrounding Cadiz used to have thriving industry and commerce which worked sustainably using the 170 saltpans to benefit the local community and biodiversity. However, more modern methods have taken over now and only four remain with over 5,373 hectares abandoned.
Local communities have been hit hard by the job losses, as people now have to travel further to find work, leaving little time to spend with their immediate surroundings.
The scientists who set up SALARTE stopped poachers using illegal fly-tipping and began employing local fishermen to operate the sluices on the saltpans and hand clean the salt.
The conditions of many habitats immediately improved as a result and the amount of local small fish species increased. Workers could fish within limits and extract the ‘flor de sal’ – the finest type of salt with a high mineral content.
Although land stewardship is quite common in the UK, it is largely unknown in Andalucía. SALARTE aims to show the importance of a civil society restoring the natural environment. This leads to social improvements for the population and restores pride in the local community.
The Andalucía Bird Society will visit the saltpan and La Covacha Island on Saturday 6 August. Anyone interested in joining them and to find out more about the project should contact 652 552 956 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out the website at www.andaluciabirdsociety.org.
SALARTE can be visited at www.salarte.org.soruce surinenglish