Status: in progress
Categorization: habitat and biodiversity
Name: Aleš Smrekar
Organization: ZRC SAZU
Summary description: Sečovlje Salina is one of the northernmost active saltpans in the Mediterranean. Due to long-lasting human activity, a typical salt ecosystem has formed. No less than 45 species from the Red List of endangered plants thrive in the Nature Park, as well as 6 identified amphibian species, 9 reptile species, more than 300 bird species and 11 mammal species. Their greatest abundance is in areas where human influence is limited; particularly where the water regime is maintained. The base of saltpans is the estuary of the Dragonja River. With the system of dykes and canals, man was able to regulate the water level and change the natural environment. The Sečovlje saltpans are assessed as ethnological, technical, historical, settlement and landscape heritage of utmost importance in the national and wider sense. Salt production dates back to the 13th century. In the past, the Sečovlje saltpans were of great strategic and economic importance for the town of Piran. Nowadays, natural processes are reshaping the landscape, especially in the inactive Fontanigge area. However, various activities are putting increasing pressure on the short Slovenian coastline. Various interest groups are present in the area of influence, which is transboundary. It is also important to preserve the cultural landscape and the adapted traditional use of the salt pans in order to improve the habitat status.
EU Principles: (i) taking a holistic and integrated approach (economic, social and environmental aspects), (ii) planning for the long term, (iii) involving stakeholders, (v) promoting awareness and commitment
Reason of interest for COASTING: The good practice is interesting for TUNE UP project due to several reasons. The area of Sečovlje Salina Nature Park is characterized by a long lasting cohesion between natural resources and human induced changes, which resulted in the development of important habitat. However, the various interests in the area put pressure that can lead to critical changes of the environment. Thus, the participatory approach is of utmost importance, to bring together the ideas, expectations and viable resources for future sustainable development of the area.
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Territorial context: The Sečovlje Salina Nature Park is located in the southwestern part of Slovenia and connects the Adriatic Sea Coast with a floodplain of Dragonja River. Salt extraction has probably been the main activity in this area since ancient times, but the first written sources about salt extraction date back to the 13th century. The area has been transformed into a network of canals, dykes, salt fields, barriers, wind and hand pumps and other ethnologically, technically and historically important elements. It is considered an important habitat and "stepping stone" between other coastal wetlands in the southern parts of the Eastern Adriatic coast.
Relation to policies and strategies: The Memorandum is not regulated by law, but represents a voluntary commitment by the signatory bodies. The inclusion and pursuit of MoU-specific objectives is foreseen in later successful project proposals, such as LIFE etc. Nevertheless, certain laws, regulations and administrative procedures are relevant for the implementation of good practice. Sečovlje Salina Nature Park was established in 2001 by the Decree on the Sečovlje Nature Park. The park is located in the southern part of the Municipality of Piran, directly on the border with the Republic of Croatia. Since 2003, the area has been managed by the company SOLINE Pridelava soli d. o. o. with a granted concession. In 2011, the Decree on the Management Plan of the Sečovlje Salina Nature Park established a 10-year management plan for the period 2011-2021. Since 1993, the area has been included in the List of Wetlands of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention.
Regulation framework: The saltpans together with the Seča Peninsula are recognised within Slovenian legislation as an ecologically important area and a natural value of national importance. According to the Directive 2009/147 / EC on the conservation of wild birds, the entire Sečovlje Salina with part of the open sea in Piran Bay has been defined as a special protection area (SPA) for 16 bird species by the Decree on Special Protection Areas - Natura 2000 sites. Individual parts within the salt pans according to Council Directive 92/43 / EEC for the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora as special areas of conservation (SCI) for 3 animal species and 6 habitat types. In 2017, with the final decision of the Arbitration Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Slovenia and the Government of the Republic of Croatia, the boundary of the park was changed.
Objectives: The main objectives of the MoU are (1) establishment of a network of cooperation between key stakeholders, (2) stable management of agricultural land, (3) regulation of water regime, (4) sustainable management and development, (5) cross-border coordination and development, (6), good condition of natural habitats, (7) conservation of European Pond turtle, (8), strengthening the value of nature in the protected area, (9) establishment and effective management of brands, (10) valorization and promotion of natural and cultural heritage, (11) improving transport infrastructure and sustainable mobility and (12) design and promotion of sustainable tourism products.
Developers (and governance): SOLINE Pridelava soli d.o.o.
Innovation aspects: Overall, the innovative tool and the integration process of its establishment has proven to overcome conflicts between institutional and legal jurisdiction and is proving to be a dynamic way capable of activating a desirable relationship between different interests and supporting new forms of multi-sectoral stakeholder participation in wetland management.
Actions: A large number of potential stakeholders were addressed in the local community and wider through the questionnaire and invited to participate in the further process of preparation of the MPA Contract through the Territorial Labs. A guided discussion was held using the World Café method, with the three main topics/pillars - nature conservation, tourism and agriculture. ZRC SAZU has boosted a participatory process in October 2020 – March 2021, leading to the subscription of the Memorandum of Understanding by 14 key stakeholders on 10 3. 2021.
Stakeholders involvement: Approximately 200 potential stakeholders were addressed in the local community and wider (with particular knowledge and interest) through the questionnaire. Further, 64 potential stakeholders participated in the questionnaire and provided answers. According to the response, they were invited to participate in the further River Contract process of preparation of the MPA Contract through three Territorial Labs and two local conferences. This approach was implemented due to the diverse activities and stakeholders interests in the small coastal cross-border area. Within the three pillars - nature conservation, tourism and agriculture - the groups addressed challenges and sought solutions in the area of the Sečovlje Salina Nature Park and the wider hinterland. Under each pillar, stakeholders in groups discussed problems, suggested solutions, and highlighted the challenges they identified in the park's area. Altogether 34 stakeholders participated in the Territorial Labs.
Results achieved: ZRC SAZU has been driving a participatory process in the period October 2020 - March 2021 leading to the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the MPA Contract of Sečovlje Salina Nature Park by 14 key stakeholders on 10. 3. 2021. The MPA Contract is managed in governed by the management board, the technical-scientific secretariat and MPA Forum. The coordinators of the process and the key stakeholders showed great interest, knowledge and willingness to actively participate in the sustainable development of the area.
Potential for learning and transfer
Challenges and obstacles: The methodology would have had a higher impact if it had been used directly at the live organized Territorial Labs because things would have been discussed more easily. However, the pandemic COVID forced the project members to organize Territorial Labs via videoconferencing, which caused some minor technical problems, but most importantly did not offer the full potential of the methodology used.
Transferability in COASTING project: The methodology used showed great potential for further application in areas with diverse interests, such as Sečovlje Salina Nature Park. Many of the stakeholders discussed problems, perspectives and solutions for the area for the first time, which increased the possibilities for further sustainable development of the area. The stakeholders involved were active and provided constant feedback, which led to progress in the development of the MPA contract.