Soler's proposal for the Saladar

Proposal to restore the salt pan of the Saladar

Feb 6th 2012

The Cirne Foundation recently organized a talk on the Saladar and its cultural heritage in which the plant biologist Jaume Soler proposed the protection of this natural area.

The Saladar has an area of 66,663 hectares and is listed as developable in the 1990 General Plan. In the outline document which preceded the the new General Plan, the previous Bloc-Centristes government team filed a motion to protect this area which is currently characterized by mostly abandoned and farmland and rubble.

Soler explained this is a sandbar-lagoon system, typical of the coast of Valencia, and should be considered as part of the fossil dune system formed by the two "Montañares" , the river Gorgos and the prehistoric river which emptied into the Arenal through the Canal de la Fontana .
The Saladar is the lowest place in Jávea, being up to 2.5 m below sea level, but it is now covered by sediments of earth and vegetation, and the lowest part is at 1.20 m. The area receives water coming down from streams in gulleys such as Tossalet and dels Albanells. Formerly the Saladar was open to the sea via the Arenal beach, and had both fresh and brackish waters.

The municipal archaeologist Ximo Bolufer explained that from Roman times until the eighteenth century, about 10.95 hectares of the lower part of Saladar was used to make salt. (Hence the name "Saladar"= salt) for which sea water was channeled through the channel known as through the "Séquia de la Nória" (water wheel channel) .
The remaining area is traversed by farm fields with a very characteristic morphology. They are long and narrow and parallel to the sloping gulleys, taking advantage of the water supply, yet not being too vulnerable in the event of heavy rains and dotted with more than 15 "senias" (a type of shallow well of islamic origin).

Soler also talked about the flooding of the area, which has suffered from 3 or 4 episodes of heavy rainfall in the last 200 years. It is classified by PATRICOVA at level 3, i.e. with a return flood period of 25 years to depths of less than 80cm.

Most crops were abandoned after the last period of malaria and the Saladar is now full of invasive plants, such as Cortadelia serulana, but it also has unique flora species such as Limonium interjectum , discovered by Soler himself.

Also, this area is one of many different habitats throughout the municipality which contribute to the incredible natural beauty and biodiversity which characterizes Xàbia, and favors the existence of protected species. Among these are those that are defined as relicts, i.e. plant populations which have become isolated and in the future may lead to new species.

Finally, Soler proposed to protect the whole of the Saladar area, not only because climate change will mean that heavy rainfall events will become more frequent, but because in the end is less expensive to maintain an area by respecting its natural characteristics.

The biologist also reviewed the current rules, which are becoming increasingly protective of the environment. He highlighted the Valencia land strategy, which sits above any General Plan , and guideline 146 which recommends the restoration of the coherence of the coast where it has been lost and rejects the construction of buildings which block the view within 1,000 m from the coast, and limits construction to 30% of the land, without increasing the volume of construction.

Considering all these factors, Soler proposes that the area should be a protected landscape and that the natural habitats and some of the traditional uses of Saladar should be rehabilitated. He suggests creating two areas of water; one fresh, into which the streams flow, and other salty with reeds, ("senillar") similar to that of Moraira . It would also be interesting to recover the sand bar, agricultural use of the area and a portion of the salt pan as a tourist resource.

From XAD: Un experto....

For more information on the Saladar see: Saladar

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