Slovenian Cases

The Saltpans of Secovlje

an example of a good partnership between telecomunacation company and the public in preservation of salt-pans that are among the most endangered wetlands in the Mediterranean

salt-pans preservation
coastal wetland
ecological tourism
cultural tourism

The Secovlje Landcape Park covers an extensive area of 850 ha along the mouth of the Dragonja river. The area includes salt-pans and Seca peninsula. It is located at the end of the Bay of Piran, which is one of two bays on the Gulf of Trieste that form the Coast of Slovenia.


Rich cultural and nature heritage
Salt extraction used to be one of the important economic activities in the coast of Slovenia for centuries. Almost all lowland parts of marshy valleys that were submerged by the sea, used to be cultivated as salt-pans at least since the 13th century. In the golden times of salt production, a century ago, there were 40.000 tons per year harvested in the Secovlje salt-pans. Salt-extraction together with its interesting by-products (salt mud, heavy salt water) enabled the launching and development of spa tourism at Portoroz. The production of salt was abandoned at the end of the 60's in the larger part of the salt-pans. Since then, the area has been continuously transformed and changed into a series of diverse and more or less saline biotopes that are also a rich treasury of plant and animal life. The submediterranean climate, high salinity of water and abandoned salt-making activities in the greater part of the pans create very special ecological conditions, in which only the organisms best adapted to them can survive. Today, however, salt-extraction is in decline, which makes this picturesque cultural landscape, and a specific wetland with over 250 species of birds, and no less than 45 species from the Red list of endangered plants in Slovenia, a subject of deterioration.

Photo:Primož Hieng

Problems / Conflicts / Opportunities
Salt-pans are certainly among the most endangered wetlands in the Mediterranean, and are virtually disappearing in front of our eyes. To protect the area from deterioration, the protection of natural and cultural heritage of the area is not enough. The area needs proper land-use that will utilise the old salt-pan structures. Long-term management plan should consider the fact that protection of endangered plant and animal spices goes hand in hand with protection of salt production. Because only through salt production the exceptional ecosystem was formed and preserving sustainable salt production is actually the only key for the protection of this unique habitat on the long run. Besides that, the vicinity of Secovlje to densely populated tourist areas is certainly a big opportunity for tourism development. Therefore, cultural and eco-tourism seem to offer a good alternative for preserving this valuable heritage.

Photo: Marko Razpet

Results, Who, Where, When
In 1989, the Piran council proclaimed the area as natural resort called Secovlje Landscape Park. This was due to extremely rich natural and cultural heritage (architectural, ethnological and technical). In 1993, due to their exceptional landscape and ecological value, the Secovlje salt-pans were included on the list of Ramsar sites as the first wetland in Slovenia. In the past decade, the Museum of salt making was established. The most important result, however, is that in January 2002 the Slovenian telecomunication company Mobitel d.o.o. decided to buy the salt-production company Soline d.o.o. They believe, that preservation of cultural and natural heritage is not yust the task of the state, but also the task of profit organizations. In the Mobitel d.o.o. they say that they will preserve traditional salt production as reraty that will perhaps be unique in Europe. In July 2003 area is finally given under protection / control of Soline d.o.o., which takes care of proper management of the protected area.

Photo: arhiv Krajinskega
parka Secoveljske soline
Further information

Natural and cultural heritage sites, which are vitally connected to specific manner of land-use, require fully integrated solutions to ensure their preservation. All plans and activities for improving of the tourism offer are to be made with regard to environmental characteristics and capabilities, and above all be sustainable.


What are possible tools for preserving vast areas of cultural landscape, such as salt-pans, from deterioration?


Prepared by:
IIDE – Institute for Integral Development and Environment (Marta Vahtar, Maja Zdesar and Miran Rusjan)