In 2001, by the Serbian Government Decree , Special Nature Reserve “Slano Kopovo” got the status of the first category natural resource of great importance. It is one of the last preserved salt marshes in Serbia. A rare salty waters, which has been preserved to this day in the complex of the Potisje floodplain soil terrain
This Pannonian habitat distinguishes for salty and muddy marshes. Depending on the weather conditions it becomes the lake. During the summer month when water withdraws, the Slano Kopovo is covered with white thin crust a few centimeter thick. The lake fills with the atmospheric precipitation water, surface water flow and subterranean waters. The deepest part of the lake is 20cm. The bottom is salty-solonchak soil. This Pannonian slatina is very important for preserving specific species of flora and fauna in Vojvodina. The river Tisa often changed its flow in the past, flooding the surrounding soil, and Slano Kopovo is just the result of acting the river because it is the ancient river meander. Since 17th and 18th century when marsh draining and embankment building has started, some exceptional species of plant communities appeared. The lake is the type of river or fluvial lake. It has the shape of the horseshoe which prongs are turned to the south.
When water evaporates or is withdrawn, the salt starts to pile up it the lower parts, a few centimeter thick. Increasing air temperature above the lake and the temperature difference from the surrounding field leads to optical illusions and meteorological phenomena, so called mirage and sudden gust of wind. It is on the average elevation (80m). There are two pools in the reserve: Slano Kopovo and Poština Kopovo. Parallel to Slano Kopovo, on its eastern side, there is a narrower depression Little or Poštaš Kopovo. It is surrounded by marsh vegetation and unlike Slano Kopovo, it is a freshwater marsh that has no permanent water. Between these pools are plowed fields. On this area there are some plant communities that are endangered
Some of them are protected flora and fauna species preserved only in this area. Only Okanj and Rusanda today have such richness of flora and fauna rarity. Hunting Association Novi Bečej is responsible for this area that spreads on 976 ha. Their members marked the trails and borders of the reserve, built the watchtower by the lake and opened the info center that can have visitors for educational and scientific tourism in 2004. In 2004, Slano Kopovo became worldly important water habitat according to Ramsar Convention that was ratify by Serbia in 1976.
This reserve is one of the most important stations for migratory birds in Serbia and Europe. Many birds from the red list of endangered species are nesting here. This place is significant for resting hundreds of thousands migratory birds of the water habitats. More than 200 different species were recorded in Slano Kopovo by far, of that 73 species nest here. This reserve is interesting because some atypical species for Pannonian plain nest here as well. These birds are typical for Ponto Caspian area and sea shore.
In 1989 and 2000, Slano Kopovo was marked as an important international bird habitat according to IBA project and its territory spreads on 2660ha.
The plant cover can be recognized as the type of salt marsh vegetation, and consists mostly of annual succulent halophytes. That is the plant community class Thero-Salicornitea which is endangered. Coastal belt is full of marsh vegetation, reed (Scirpo-Phragmitetum phragmitetosum), community of high sedge Carici Typhoidetum (Phalaridetum arundinaceae). Salt marsh vegetation of the reserve is ephemeral type, floristically uniformed and is generally visible during the summer when water from the lake is withdrawn.
At the salt lake coasts, especially during the summer after water is withdrawn, appears free from leaves, salt marsh plant – Salicornietum prostratae as a very special plant species. This salty-solonchak soil rich with sodium-chloride and moisture suits it very well. Salicornia europaea is dominant species of the community. There are Crypsis aculeata, Puccinelia limosa and Spergularia marginata as well. It is interesting that some of these species exclude the possibility of coexistence with other species. When the water retreats, Salicornia europaea appears. This plant suits higher humidity of the ground. As the ground dries out, the dominant species becomes Suaeda maritime. At the end of vegetation period Puccinelia limosa, Spergularia media and Aster pannonicus appear as the plant cover of this area. Suaeda pannonica found its home here at Slano Kopovo and this plant is edema of the Pannonian plain. There are meadow – steppe vegetation in the upper parts of the Reserve Slano Kopovo. These areas are occasionally flooded salty meadows. They appear in the form of smaller oases, in line, which is characteristic of this area. The ceonose of Puccinellietum limosae grows in the moistest area and Hordeetum hystricis ceonose grows in the driest area. The edges of the seams are habituated by meadow – steppe vegetation.
On the territory of Special Nature Reserve Slano Kopovo as the unique salt marsh communities live groups of protected and strictly protected species. The main species of mammals that live here are: the European ground squirrel, the striped field mouse, the steppe polecat. This is the ideal place for cranes, the grey lag goose, the mallard, the pied avocet and the sanderling. Many birds were dispaeared from here, like the white-headed duck. Slano Kopovo was mentioned for the first time as a nesting place of this bird in 1953. The last nesting of this bird has been recorded in 1962. It was founded that the white-headed duck lived in this area only when the water level in the lake was high enough to flood the surrounding reed. Considering that in the last few years Poštino and Slano Kopovo usually dried out, it has been done intensively on the regulation of the water regime in order to bring this population and many others back into this area.
Slano Kopovo is one of the most important and the most special bird habitats in Serbia. It is also a unique migratory station for migratory birds. During the autumn migration, in this place gather a large number of ducks, geese and cranes. So, just in one day 20.000 cranes gathered here which is the largest number recorded in Serbia. The main reasons for massively bird gathering are food availability, suitable geographical location and what is the most important – peace they have in this place! Considering that Slano Kopovo is located in the center of the hunting ground that manages “Hunting Association Novi Bečej”, hunting in this territory is completely forbidden. The most active birds are cranes that gather in large flocks. During the migration that starts in September, mostly from Central Europe and Siberia, these birds are using the reserve as a station to rest and feed themselves. The National Park ” Hortobagi” in Hungary and Slano Kopovo are the most important places for birds to rest on they way to Africa. The shallow waters of the lake, the sown fields in the surroundings and the silence of Novi Bečej countryside are the real refreshments for these birds.
Every year in November, when the cranes gather in the reserve, the festival “Crane Fest” is held. Nature lovers, adventurers, scientists, ornithologists, bird watchers, schools, kindergartens, guests from Serbia and abroad…all of them can watch together this unique bird dance in the sky. In the autumn sky, thousands of birds are having their show just for us. Besides watching birds, there are interesting workshops for children, writing poems, drawing cranes and costume party, but what is most important – a beautiful day spent outside!
SNR Slano Kopovo has good tourist’s potential: a landscape, interesting flora and fauna, animal flocks, đerams (old well) and nearby farms offer more than a nature beauty. This is the traditional way of life of the Pannonian Plain people with all those elements that make the life of this region authentic.
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