Annual report 2012

Soline

Under a concession agreement concluded with the Republic of Slovenia, Soline manages the Sečovlje Saltpans Regional Park, which covers 650 state-protected hectares, in which all land and other real estate are owned by the government. The Sečovlje Saltpans Regional Park is on the list of Wetlands of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention, and is part of the EU’s Natura 2000 ecological network. The saltpan ecosystem is a specific coastal wetland ecosystem.

The entire salt production process relies on traditional centuries-old processes, and is based entirely on components from the local environment. The use of the civil works and traffic infrastructure is kept to a minimum. No environmentally harmful by-products are created during production. The company has held a certificate of geographical origin for its high-quality traditional product since 2005.

Research indicates that invasive exotic species were not introduced to the saltpans by the production process, and that their numbers and presence are not yet so high as to have significant consequences for ecosystems and communities. The number and abundance of species in the Sečovlje Saltpans Regional Park indicate growth in populations. For example, the number of nesting pairs of terns, a highly endangered bird species, has risen in recent years from 8 to around 60 pairs.

The mapping of habitat types has indicated minor changes in the representation and diversification of habitats. These are, however, positive changes, as the revival of traditional salt production increases the proportion of autochthonous saltpan habitats on account of once degraded areas. No major changes in ecological processes have been noted.

Key administrative objectives are set out in the plan for managing the Sečovlje Saltpans Regional Park adopted by the Slovenian government for the period 2011 to 2021, and include the preservation of wetland characteristics of the saltpan ecosystem, its biodiversity and the economic and cultural values of the region.  This is achieved by:

  • maintaining the saltpan ecosystem;
  • preserving traditional salt production processes and centuries-old technological processes; and
  • continuing the production of salt, which has always been the driving force behind the economic development of the region.

The local community is included in the management of the park through its participation in the Sečovlje Saltpans Regional Park Committee. This cooperation is also ensured through the organisation of joint events.

There are no endangered species from the IUCN’s global list of endangered species present in the Sečovlje Saltpans Regional Park. Around 20 bird species, two species of fish, four amphibious species and one reptilian species are included in the annexes to the EU’s Bird and Habitat Directive. At least 45 plants are included on the national list of endangered plant species. The region is one of two that are of national importance to the migration of birds according to the EU’s Bird Directive. Many more species are included on national lists of endangered groups and species.

Motor vehicle traffic in the park is severely limited: only the collective transportation of employees to the park for work is permitted. Current means of transportation will be replaced by an electrically powered vehicle to transport visitors whose movements are limited. In the future, only emergency vehicles, basic maintenance vehicles and certain other department-specific vehicles will be permitted to enter the park. The company expects the implementation of these measures to reduce the use of motor vehicles to 20% of what it used to be, and thus reduce CO2 emissions by 29.9 tonnes a year.