Restoration of traditional salt pans in the Bay of Cádiz to benefit coastal birds and cultural heritage.
Current habitat status
Located in Santibáñez, Cádiz, the first historical reference to the Salina Preciosa & Roqueta dates from the year 1614, linked to its old tidal mill.
The salt pan is within the Bahía de Cádiz Natural Park, declared a Special Conservation Area of the European Natura 2000 Ecological, a Ramsar site, a Special Protection Area for Birds under EU law.
It is are considered a habitat of high environmental value, being of high interest for the breeding, feeding and resting of coastal birds.
Salt extraction in the Bahía de Cádiz dates back to Phoenician times and beyond. The traditional methods of extraction promote diverse aquatic micro- and macro-fauna in the pans themselves, which in turn support a wealth of larger fauna, which also profit from the undisturbed specialist saline-tolerant flora which inhabits the edge of these small, traditional pans.
Two of the biggest threats faced by salt pan biodiversity are intensification of management on the one hand – leading to large pans managed with heavy machinery – and abandonment on the other – leading to overgrowth and silting of the pans.
Their maintenance depends directly on their management, which is why they need active conservation that combines traditional salt extraction with maintenance of the microhabitats, infrastructures and water levels.
The main objective of the project is the recovery and enhancement of the Salina Preciosa and Roqueta, combining environmentally-sustainable management, traditional salt extraction and sustainable aquaculture, Nature tourism and recovery of the cultural heritage of the salt pans.
Currently, several milestones have already been achieved. Traditional aquaculture activity has been reintroduced, such as the collection of shrimp or prawn, and is increasing the diversity of naturally-occurring fish.
The story of these tradtional practices is told through the restored salinera (salt processing buildings) which is now a multipurpose centre (sustainable seafood restaurant, visitor centre and conference centre/exhibition hall).
Invasive flora and rubbish have been removed, returning to the area its lost landscape, improving its walkability and recovering spaces that were previously inaccessible to citizens.
Going forward, the main focus of the project will be the creation of a nature reserve with active recovery of the salt pan structures, which will allow the reintroduction of traditional salt extraction and all the cultural, socio-economic and biodiversity benefits that it brings.
After years of neglect and inactivity, most of the salt and aquaculture structures have large sections clogged or abandoned, with very shallow water, inappropriate for aquaculture production and low in biodiversity value. These areas will be restored through mechanical removal of sludge, profiling of slopes and removal of invasive flora to recover and improve water circulation and the productive water surface.
Islands will be created and substrate added for the breeding of endangered species such as Kentish Plover
The installation of bird hides, signage and interpretation linked to the project at key points of the salt pan area will allow the promotion and development of ornithological/nature tourism. Salt production structures will be restored for demonstrative purposes.
Mechanical removal of rubbish and invasive flora – € 3.50 per square meter
Mechanical dredging and cleaning of structures € 8.50 per square meter
Hides €1,000 – €3,000
Signage and interpretation €250 – €650.
Recovery Curve status
Likely T1 – Diagnosis provides sufficient results to trial solutions, but work only initiated recently.
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