Solana Ulcinj: an Habitat for a Thousand Species

LOLA Landscape Architects

Architect: LOLA Landscape Architects
Location: Crna Gora, Serbia
Project date: 2016

During the 2016 Venice Biennale ‘Reporting from the Front’, LOLA landscape architects presented their vision for the Solana Ulcinj at the Montenegro pavilion. The former salina site in the south of Montenegro faces major challenges in the future in order to remain a wildlife sanctuary for migratory birds.

Once the salina of Ulcinj produced valuable salt, but following its privatization the facility went bankrupt and the water pumps were demolished. The discontinued salt production makes the future existence of the Solana Ulcinj as a wildlife sanctuary uncertain, even though the area is of great value for the countless bird species that cross the Adriatic Sea along the Adriatic Flyway migratory route each year.

Salty, nutrient-rich shallow water pumped into evaporation basins resulted in the massive presence of birds in the salina. In turn, birds resulted in the presence of birdwatchers. Birdwatchers resulted in hospitality jobs: thus, the saline pyramid of species. To get the pyramid stable and working again, it is essential to restart the pumps to secure the future and guarantee basic biodiversity for the Solana Ulcinj.

That’s not enough, though. The salina could generate more colors, more wildlife, more visitors and more jobs. The way to sustain this is to create hyperdiversity: a maximized biodiversity through slight variations in salinity, shelter, nutrients, shading, etc. More variety means more biodiversity. More biodiversity means more visitors. The people of Ulcinj are welcome to benefit if they contribute to the hyperdiversity: an investment in the ecological variations in the framework of the Solana Ulcinj.

There are many possibilities to trigger ecological variations. For instance, a hotel owner could make a panorama point for birdwatchers inside one of the basins. Its base would influence the water flow: water will become stagnant behind it, sedimentation will occur and plants will start to grow. Farmers (of shrimp) and beauticians (for mud) are welcome too, on one condition: their activities should benefit the presence of birds.

When it comes to the salt itself, the only way to make the production of salt in the Solana Ulcinj viable is to reduce the costs of production and increase the value of the product. One option would be to make use of machines or invite volunteers to come and spend their holiday harvesting salt. Another idea would be to create something special, like producing flamingo salt for flamingo fanatics around the world!

The Solana Ulcinj can set an example; we can really show that we are learning from mistakes and that nature can bounce back. We can show how nature can benefit from our presence as human beings, instead of only the either way around. All of this can happen when we take responsibility and make it a joint effort shared by everyone. Only then can the Solana Ulcinj reach its full ecological potential of 1000 species.