With the aim of highlighting the important contribution made by traditional salt pans to the generation of shared value for nature, society and the business fabric, and to halt the decline of the cultural and natural heritage of the natural and protected areas they occupy, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (UICN-Med) and SEO/BirdLife (partner in Spain of BirdLife International), have joined forces to organise a training and participatory workshop on the application of the natural capital approach in artisan saltworks.
Artisanal salt pans generate landscapes with unique characteristics due to their natural values. Their commitment to sustainable production in places of special importance for the conservation of biodiversity makes them key sites for the reproduction and rest of a multitude of birds and other species of fauna and flora. They also play a fundamental role in local development due to their cultural, heritage, historical, social and identity-related interest. However, the abandonment of this artisanal practice is leading to the transformation and deterioration of these precious ecosystems.
To support the traditional salt sector in recovering its important role in nature conservation and rural development, during the workshop “Natural capital in artisanal salt works” the participants discovered how the natural capital approach can be a very effective tool to highlight the role of artisanal salt works in preserving the cultural and traditional values they treasure and the attributes of artisanal salt.
The event, funded by MAVA Foundation and organized with the collaboration of Ecoacsa Reserva de Biodiversidad and Everis NTT Data as facilitators, and Fondo para la Recuperación de las Marismas Salineras (Salarte) and Martinete Consultoría Ambiental y Ecoturismo, took place in person at the Casa de los Toruños (Puerto de Santa María, Cádiz) and was broadcast via streaming on SEO/BirdLife’s Youtube channel.
This event also served to create synergies with the Medartsal project, which seeks to revalue the artisanal salt sector in Mediterranean countries.
The audience consisted of artisanal salt producers, representatives of public bodies, academia, catering, hospitality, organic tourism, marketing of organic and gourmet products, organic landscaping and restoration, NGOs and conservation associations.
Jesús Pinilla, environmental biologist at the Andalusian Delegation of SEO/BirdLife, stressed that economic activities are essential to attract biodiversity to the Bahía de Cádiz Natural Park.
Having just returned from the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille (France), Arnau Teixidor, Ecosystem Programme Officer at IUCN-Med, stressed that the issues on the workshop agenda had been at the forefront of the international conclave.
David Álvarez, executive director of Ecoacsa, acted as workshop facilitator during the day and kicked off the theoretical and practical session by explaining the concepts of natural capital and ecosystem services and the theory of capitals, according to which:
Jesús Carrasco, head of Natural Capital and Biodiversity Projects at Everis Ntt Data, explained in detail the concept of the six capitals and safe operating space, and worked on its application to the salt sector through a practical dynamic with the participants.
Successful examples of sustainable production, biodiversity conservation and profitability
Through the presentation of the cases of Valle Salado de Añana, Flor de Sal d’Es Trenc, Riet Vell and LIFE Olivares Vivos, the professionals who participated in the workshop learned about other examples of sustainable production in natural and protected environments that successfully combine the sustainability of a business model based on the promotion of biodiversity and the care of ecosystems with economic profitability.
Laura Calvo, Director of Image and Communication at Flor de Sal d’Es Trenc, stressed the importance of preserving biodiversity and the natural environment, given that the health of the ecosystem and its functions depend on its traditional salt activity.
The workshop concluded with a participatory dynamic that sought to identify what characteristics a product must meet to be attractive from the consumer’s point of view and with thanks from Juan Martín, president of Salarte, to the organisers, facilitators and speakers for their involvement and the knowledge and enriching experiences shared during the day and, in particular, to the participating salt sector “for their commitment and their example of environmental economy linked to natural capital that provide added value not only to the product, but also to the territory.”