COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF TRADITIONAL SOLAR SALTWORKS AND OTHER ECONOMIC ACTIVITIES IN A PORTUGUESE PROTECTED ESTUARY
This study shows that Traditional Solar Saltworks can be competitive with other land uses in the Nature Reserve of Castro Marim and Vila Real de Santo Antonio Saltmarshes (“Reserva Natural do Sapal de Castro Marim e Vila Real de Santo António”, in Portuguese), sited in the estuary of the Guadiana River (SW Iberian Peninsula, Europe); particularly, if they are specialized in extraction of Fleur de Sel (or Flower of Salt), a gourmet variety of sea salt. Artisanal sea salt production based on solar evaporation
methods of millennial history in the area is an environmentally sustainable activity in harmony with
saltmarsh landscape. Two crystallizers of a 1 ha Traditional Solar Saltworks were monitored during 70 days from June to August 2015 with the purpose of gathering detailed production data. Monitoring comprised weighing of daily Fleur de Sel harvest while coarse salt survey in one crystallizer, implied packing and weighing after two months. The competitiveness of this new commercialized variety of
sea salt was assessed with respect to other ongoing economic activities in the area, such as aquaculture,
industrial salt production, and tourism. Comparison focused on the relationship between the occupied surface and production´s revenue. Water consumption was used as an economic and environmental sustainability indicator. Data were obtained through in-situ monitoring, literature review and from official statistics and spatial data sources. The results indicate that Fleur de Sel extraction in Traditional Solar Saltworks can be a high profile land use form in the area of Nature Reserve, which on a long-term basis
is a sustainable activity from a socio-economic and environmental point of view.
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