26 Nov 2017

Are salinas detrimental for the environment?

Some days ago, we came across an article about how salinas work and the environmental problems they cause (https://pspstation.org/como-funciona-una-salinera/), featured in a website about computer games, a world away from salt making. The author (unknown to us) stated that salt making was detrimental to the environment because “it prevents animals to use the space they occupy for living and it changes the chemical properties of the soil for cultivation”. He (or she) also explains that the remains of the salt production -eaux mères, as they are known- are toxic for the environment, poison the animals and their long-term effects are unknown.

The article clearly fails to understand that salinas are hotspots for halophile (i.e. salt loving) biodiversity, highly valuable, both in scientific and economic terms, due to their rarity and fragility. Salinas are known for enhancing rather than destroying biodiversity. They constitute important wetland enclaves both at the coast (due to their size) and inland (due to their location). Evidently, the salt making ponds occupy space that cannot be used for other purposes (e.g. agriculture) but they are usually small and do not affect land use in adjacent plots. The eaux mères are in fact considered a subproduct -rather than a waste- with applied value, and should thus not be dumped in the environment. Furthermore, the location of a salina is determined by the presence of salt in nature, especially in the case of inland salinas. Therefore, animals and crops were already adapted to it, anyway.

Yes, strictly speaking, salinas have an impact on the environment. But it is a positive one! They enhance biodiversity, use a renewable resource, create employment and provide a landscape mosaic of great aesthetic value. Pity the author failed to understand this. From our side, lesson learnt. We will never pronounce our opinion on computer games, a world away from our expertise (Photo: ©IPAISAL).  


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