Thanks to the wisdom and techniques developed by the salt workers, taking advantage of natural elements, a sustainable industrial exploitation has been achieved.
The water that emerges at the springs, the hillsides, the sun, the wind and the use of traditional techniques create a distinctive landscape. There were no waste materials for centuries; they used every natural resource to incredible limits.
All the materials used are natural, except at certain unstable times when they relegated the basic principles governing life in the valley, putting economic criteria first. Both the production of salt and the construction of the structures are perfectly sustainable, achieving an optimum environmental and ecological balance.
Throughout its life, Valle Salado has been under constant maintenance; going through better and worse times depending on the fluctuating demand for salt in the markets.
One of the worst periods occurred in the twentieth century when the mechanisation of transport and improvements in the production of sea salt and of the techniques used in salt mines led to the systematic bankruptcy of traditional inland salt works that were based on family and manual production systems. This fierce competition in the markets led the Añana salt workers to use certain materials on the surfaces of the ancient salt pans, such as cement, that were not sustainable or environmentally friendly. For the first time in the history of the salt works, waste products were generated that were difficult to remove due to the great effort required to transport them out of the valley.
The evaporation surface was also increased considerably with the construction of salt-pans in unsuitable areas using unsustainable techniques and materials that ignored the know-how applied for millennia by generations of salt workers.
The recovery of sustainability, driven by the salt workers in the late twentieth century, marked a turning point in the history of the Añana salt works. The institutions became involved in the project through the Valle Salado de Añana Foundation. The marketing and sale of the salt has focused on quality and not quantity. The ancient techniques and know-how have been recovered regarding the maintenance and repair of the platforms and the production of salt. In addition, the salt-making activity has been complemented with other tourist, cultural and healthcare service available to all citizens.
All this is contributing to the recovery of the sustainability of Valle Salado de Añana and is ensuring the social and economic future of a unique cultural landscape in the world. We are also respecting its heritage and environmental values.