Slano Kopovo is located northeast of Novi Bečej, about 5km away from it. It is surrounded with the roads that connect Novi Bečej and Novo Miloševo, and Novi Bečej and Bašaid. At the same time, these are the roads that lead to the southern and northern entrance to Slano Kopovo.
Slano Kopovo is segmental arched, elongated, low-land area that spreads in the northwest-southeast direction.
Its coordinates are 45° 37’ 02’’ N and 45° 38’ 39’’ N North geographical latitude and , 20° 10’ 42’’ E and 20°14’ 58’’ E East geographical longitude from Greenwich. The central coordinate is 45° 37’ 51’’ N and 20° 12’ 40’’ E (Gaus – Kriger 5054.300/7438.500). The minimum altitude is 76,6 ma and the maximum altitude is 86,8 ma.
Slano Kopovo lake basin is the deepest part of palaeomeander in Banat and it’s one of the few salty aquatic preserved in the area of floodplain soil of the lowest part in Pannonian basin called Potisje. In the past, the river Tisa used to change its course frequently, flooding the nearby plains. Since larger rivers from the Carpathians did the same, it created ponds in the numerous relief depressions so marshes were prevalent in Banat. After the marshes were drained in the 17th and 18th century, dams were built and channels were dug, and many ponds were dried out. One of few ponds that avoided this was Slano Kopovo.
Slano Kopovo is one of the river Tisa ancient meanders, i.e. geomorphological form that river water created. That means it belongs to a group of river or fluvial lakes. It’s in the shape of horseshoe whose prongs are facing the south. Parallel to Slano Kopovo, on its eastern side, is Small (Poštaš) Kopovo -narrower depression. It is surrounded by marsh vegetation and belongs to freshwater type of marshes that don’t have permanent water, unlike Slano Kopovo. Slano and Small Kopovo are divided by slightly higher land – the distance between them is 350-900m. The eastern side of Slano Kopovo basin has glacis. Above the west side is the steep section of wood terrace of Banat, approximately 6m high. The highest point is on the Maslar hillock which is 86,6ma. In the north and the south of the lake’s basin, there is dry or occasionally flooded bottom of the ancient meanders. The research showed that the bottom is covered with clay and it has glacis.
The water of Slano Kopovo spreads towards south-east, north-west. It’s in the shape of ellipse. During the average water level, by along the axis, it’s 3m long. It’s the widest in its north-west part – 625m. The south-east part of Slano Kopovo ends with a constriction, where it’s only 50m wide. The area of Slano Kopovo depression is 1,45 km2 .
The lake fills itself with rainwater, surface water in draft and with subterranean waters. Since the lake hasn’t got flaw away, the water evaporates which is especially visible today.
The ground of the lake is very salty – солончак, Russian and Tatar word for “much salt“. The concentration of salt, chloride and sulfate, in this area is more than double from typical salt marshes in Vojvodina. The chemistry and the saltiness of water depend on the geological substrate. Slano Kopovo water is extremely base reaction (pH 9,0 – 9,4). The average water depth is about 70cm, but it isn’t constant and depends on a water balance. In the most part of the lake, the depth is about 20cm.
The salt and the water are the basic ecological factors which dictate the living conditions. They influence, immediately and indirectly, all ecological factors of the area. The origin of salt is explained with the Pannonian Plain characteristics. It is surrounded with the Carpathians that have igneous rocks and crystalline schist in their rocks. These free elements were carried on in the rivers from the Carpathians into the Banat Plains. Being dissolving salt, they salted the ground. In the climatic conditions of drought and semi-drought Vojvodina, where evaporation exceeds rainfall, the level of salt is increasing, especially in summer months. Because of that, the water retreats very often from Slano Kopovo which leads to the accumulation of a salt layer sometimes several centimeters thick.
This layer of salt gives the area the look of a desert.
Slano Kopovo, a very specific area, is characterized by special and rich plant cover. It is recognizable by special kind of salt marsh vegetation. Most of it is hardy, succulent, halophytes plants. They belong to community class Thero – Salicornietea . These plants are endangered species, not only here but in the whole Pannonian Plain.
Slano Kopovo coastal belt is rife with marsh vegetation. Typical reeds are the most common (ass. Scirpo-Phragmitetum phragmitetosum), but there is also bolboschoenetosum, asocial plant which grows on a salty ground and initiates poorly salinated and sodden ground. From the high sedge community there is Carici-Typhoidetum (Phalaridetum arundinaceae) species.
The salt marsh vegetation is dominated as a plant cover of the Reserve, despite its ephemeral features. This unvaried, Pannonian vegetation, usually grows during summer months when the water retreats. According to sodium-chloride concentration in the ground, the moisture of the ground and stratification process of it, we can clearly distinguish five types of fresh Thero-Salicornion.
Only here, in Serbia, you can find free from leaves, salt marsh plant – Salicornietum prostratae. In order to survive, this plant needs typically salty ground with the high concentration of sodium-chloride. Humidity factor is also very important. Its habitat is Salt Lake coast and during summer, when the water retreats, it lives in a muddy ground. Salicornia europaea is dominant species of the community. There are Crypsis aculeata, Puccinelia limosa and Spergularia marginata as well. At the edges of the Reserve and between Small and Slano Kopovo where the soil is not that salty, we can find typically meadow – steppe vegetation of the poorly salinated habitats – Statice gmelini.
Slano Kopovo is one of the most important and the most special bird habitat in Serbia. Its importance is mostly seen during the nesting of the birds that are not typical for the Pannonian Plain but for Ponsko-Caspian salt marshes and sea shores. It is also en route station for birds in migration. During the autumn migration, it is the place of ducks, geese and cranes gathering so you can see, in one day 17 000 cranes. This is the maximum number of cranes recorded in Serbia, as well as a couple of thousand geese and ducks. The most important reasons for birds gathering in such large numbers are availability of food, advantageous geographical position and the most important thing – a peace, that is provided here for the birds. Considering that Slano Kopovo is in the centre of hunting ground that belongs to Hunting Association of Novi Bečej, the hunting in this area is completely excluded.
Besides the small size of the protected area, there are 220 species recorded here. From the total number of species, 80 was recorded during nesting period. Because of its special ornithology features Slano Kopovo is proclaimed as IBA and Ramsark area.
The most important bird habitats in Slano Kopovo are open waters of the lake and offshoots, riparian vegetation, muddy and sandy waterside, moist and marshy meadows and dry meadows and pastures.
Open water zone includes Salt Lake and the ponds of Poštaš Kopovo. Most of the birds gather here for food, day and night rest.
By the regulation of the Government of Republic Serbia, published in the Official Gazette of the RS on 28th December 2001, Hunting Association Novi Bečej has been appointed as the management of the Special Reserve Slano Kopovo. That means the manager ensures implementation of the enacted protection regime, conservation and maintenance of the natural resource; secures the marking of the natural resource, internal order and security guard service; brings medium-term and annual protection programs and ensures their implementation. By adoption of the act about internal order and security guard service, the manager additionally controls the visitors, and their movement and stay in the area; the use of buildings and surrounding; putting the information and other signs; organizes educational programmes; develops sustainable tourism; provides the implementation of scientific research, upbringing and educational activities, cultural, information and promotion activities and many more.
Hunting Association premises are in 29 Sonje Marinković street in Novi Bečej.
Phone number: 023/771-076
The first initiative for protection of Slano Kopovo appears at the beginning of 1970s, precisely in 1971. That year the experts from the Faculty of Natural Sciences, Novi Sad University, from Biology Department, suggested institute proceedings for protection of Slano Kopovo. Even then, it was recognized that this area is one of the most important habitat of the rich and special Ornithofauna, especially in the time of bird migrations, in spring and autumn. Provincial Institute for Nature Protection in Novi Sad at the time, after prepared professional background and conducted research, forwarded the initiative and the proposal of solution for putting Slano Kopovo under the protection. These materials was sent to the Municipal Assembly of Novi Bečej into Department of economy affairs and social services in 1973. Unfortunately, the Municipality didn’t comprehend the importance of that suggestion. At the time, they planned to make a huge fishpond in that area. It wasn’t in the interest of the Municipality to put the area under any kind of protection. Since then, there were many initiative and attempts to put this area under the protection. In 1989., Slano Kopovo and its area of 600-700ha, was put on the list of the most important bird habitats in Europe. The Europe IBA project review suggested Slano Kopovo once more, as important bird habitat in Europe with the area of 2660ha. The area got the code IBA 012.
Dr Jasmina Mužinić from Zagreb Ornithology Institute, sent the suggestion to Provincial Institute for Nature Protection in Novi Sad that Slano Kopovo should be on the list of the Yugoslav internationally important marshes.
In 1993., the Institute for Vojvodina Urban Planning, Novi Sad, created a document that was a spatial planning for using Biserno ostrvo (Pearl Island) and Slano Kopovo. Its goal was making program of using the area and creating urban and investment documents which were necessary for protection and using nature’s potentials and development of traditional agricultural production, so called Salaši – traditional Vojvodina farm. Its goal was also, development of hunting and scientific research tourism. This document wasn’t implemented in the later period.
Although this area never got the status of protected natural resource, it has enjoyed informal protection for all this time, thanks to Vojvodina Spatial Plan. This document has scheduled the area for protection since 2000, as well as the Spatial Plan for the Republic of Serbia. In these documents, this and similar areas enjoy special treatment. They are interesting because of environment protection and represent the areas for this kind of activities.
In 1995,the Institute for Nature Protection of Serbia, made a study – a suggestion for putting the area under protection as a natural resource of importance. A government decree from 2001., gave Slano Kopovo the status of the Special Nature Reserve as the first category natural resource of great importance, and the Hunting Association of Novi Bečej became its management.
As for international status, Slano Kopovo is in category 4, according to IUCN. That category is a category of habitats and other managed areas. In 2004, it was put on the list of Ramsar areas, and the same year it became the IPA area, or the area significant for plants.
Total area of the Reserve is 976,4489 ha. In the area of SNR Slano Kopovo three-stage protection regime has been established. It is forbidden in the whole area to:
- conduct the hydrological improvement works (drilling wells, construction of canals and irrigation systems); construction and other works, except those which are in the function of improvement ecology conditions.
- research and implement other works that can change basic characteristics of the habitat.
- build anything but shepherd’s huts and sheepfolds.
- take pigs for grazing.
- engage in deforestation.
- dump and throw out garbage.
- hunt, except the sanitary fox hunting.
In the area of the first protection degree, environmental protecting measures, determined by law, and the special measures for improving natural resources are implemented. A strict protection is established: scientific works and activities are restricted, as well as monitoring the natural processes, controlling the number of visits intended for educational and cultural purposes. The first degree covers the area of 217,1367 ha: Slano Kopovo Lake with the coastal reeds, and the Small Kopovo, i.e. Poštaš Kopovo.
In the area of the second protection degree, it is forbidden to:
- collect specimens and development forms of plant and animal species, except for the scientific and protection needs and with the special permission.
- destroy vegetation, except when the purpose of destruction is improving new vegetation, respectively, to initially set the ecological balance.
- carry out grazing and to take other cattle in the area of 100m around the lake, in period of nesting and hatching birds, from the 1st April to 1st
- mow the grass till the 15th
- bring in allochthonous (alien) species.
The area of the second protection degree is the area of fields and pastures in the north and the south of Reserve and between Slano and Small Kopovo. It’s 220,0667 ha.
In the area of the third protection degree there is gradually returning agricultural areas, which stand between Slano and Small Kopovo, into the fields and pastures; reducing the number of foxes; regulating the movement of people and vehicles; regenerating the reeds by cutting or burning; limiting the use of fertilizes and chemical plant protection products. This third degree area includes agricultural plough land and its 539,2455 ha.