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Ecosystem

The traditional salt evaporation ponds of the region of Olhão are located in the Natural Park of Ria Formosa protected by national legislation. Here the traditional cultivation of salt is a sustainable economic activity, friendly to the environment where the salt ponds are part of an ecosystem that integrates microalgae, halophytic flora, and several fowl.


The flora varies depending on the salinity of the water and soil. The vegetation of the walls of the salt evaporation ponds provides conditions for the nesting, protection, and feeding of several waterfowl and stabilizes the salt ponds. The maintenance of the vegetation and the protection of the fowl nesting locations increase the environmental richness of the salt evaporation pond ecosystem preserving our most valued legacy: Nature.

Some of the most common species of fauna are the following: Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus roseus), Little Egret (Egretta garzetta), Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea), Little Stint (Calidris minuta), Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus), and Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta).
 


In regards to microalgae we can refer to Dunaliella (Dunaliella salina) that is the starting point of the food chain of the salt evaporation pond ecosystem for it feeds the Artemia salina, a macroinvertebrate that is the base of the food chain of several fowl birds.

At the flora level the salt evaporation ponds are mainly composed of Sarcocornia (Sarcocornia sp.), Limoniastrum (Limoniastrum monopetalum), and the Salicornia (Salicornia sp.) which is edible and has soft and succulent extremities with a delicious salty taste that is very much appreciated in countries like France and Italy.