Saline wetland in Brijuni National Park

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Saline wetland in Brijuni National Park, © Marko Vrdoljak

Saline wetland in Brijuni National Park, © Goran Safarek
Saline wetland in Brijuni National Park, © Goran Safarek

Overview
More about the site

The wetland Saline is one of the two wetland habitats found on Veliki Brijun, the largest island within the Brijuni National Park. Covering an area of approximately 11 hectares, the Saline wetland consists of three distinct water bodies: the Large lake spanning 1.3 hectares, the Middle lake covering 1.0 hectare, and the Small lake with an area of 0.4 hectares. These water bodies are interconnected by patches of autochthonous forest vegetation, though the presence of non-native and planted tree species, such as eucalyptus, is common.

Despite lacking a direct connection to the sea, the Saline water bodies exhibit significant salinity, particularly accentuated during periods of drought. Birds form the most prominent aspect of Saline’s fauna, drawing attention for their diversity and abundance. Additionally, the wetland harbours other notable species contributing to its conservation value, including the pond turtle Emys orbicularis, bats, and dragonflies.

While possessing substantial ecological potential, particularly for migratory bird populations, Saline is in urgent need of restoration. Proposed interventions encompass a range of measures, including augmenting freshwater supply from underground sources, implementing circulation systems, sediment removal, coast restoration, formation of small islands, reed repopulation, and selective removal of trees adjacent to the wetland.

Over the past three years, extensive hydrological and faunistic research has been conducted, alongside comprehensive habitat restoration planning. It is anticipated that the restoration efforts will be initiated within the next two years, aiming to rejuvenate and enhance the ecological integrity of the Saline wetland.

Little grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis), Coot (Fulica atra), Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus), Great reed warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus), European pond turtle (Emys orbicularis), Southern Darter (Sympetrum meridionale)

The Saline wetland is situated on an uninhibited island in Brijuni archipelago, North Adriatic. Serving as a crucial oasis, this wetland acts as a pivotal stopover site and stepping stone for migratory species journeying through the region. This role holds particular significance given the scarcity and value of freshwater resources on Mediterranean islands.

Throughout history, the location of Saline has undergone numerous transformations. The toponym itself alludes to the salt pans, which historical records suggest were divided by the bishop of Poreč, Euphrasius, in 543, with a third given to his clergy. However, by the first half of the 17th century, the salt pans ceased operations, and cartography from the early 19th century unmistakably depicts it as a marine lagoon.

 

Under the presidency of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia’s leader, Josip Broz Tito, in the 1960s, significant changes occurred in Saline area. Three lakes were artificially created, with freshwater pumped into them. Adjacent to the largest lake, a wooden observation tower with a reed roof was erected on a small island, primarily used for bird observation and presidential hunting. Additionally, numerous trees, including many non-native species, were planted around the lake during this time. The area was strictly off-limits to visitors.

 

The Saline wetland remains inaccessible to visitors at present. However, following its restoration, a designated area for birdwatchers will be established. Currently, visitors have the opportunity to explore a small pond on Veliki Brijun island, known as “Brijunska bara,” as well as visit the interpretation and education center located at the Boathouse.

Numerous educational activities and conservation initiatives are carried out within the Brijuni National Park, with a particular focus on the wetland area. Visitors to the main island can participate in guided excursions or explore independently, with designated visitor trails available for exploration, including access to the small pond. However, access to the Saline wetland itself is restricted.

Maintenance of favourable water level and physical-chemical properties, habitat maintenance and ecological restoration

 

Habitat degradation and climate change

The Saline wetland does not hold the status of a Ramsar site. However, efforts to maintain its habitat and ensure favorable conservation status are integrated into the management plan of the Brijuni National Park.

 

Latest updates of those information: march 2024

Saline wetland in Brijuni National Park
Saline wetland in Brijuni National Park