The cultural and economic value of Bonaire’s salinas are only surpassed by their environmental value. Many of the island’s salinas are recognized internationally as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA), as sites noted for their regional importance by the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network, as Ramsar sites. In fact, all four of Bonaire's Ramsar sites include include salinas.
A saliña is a salt pan, salt lake, or salt marsh. They are located in close proximity of the sea. Saliñas are permanently or temporarily flooded, hypersaline and separated from the sea by a coral rubble barrier. They serve as important sites for birds (including flamingos, sandpipers and herons), crabs, mollusks, etc. where they forage, live and sometimes breed. Saliñas are also an important part of the natural rainwater runoff system on the islands and allow for sedimentation to settle before rainwater enters the coastal sea waters. Dirty runoff water going into the sea directly has a negative impact on coral reefs.
Salinas can be found all across Bonaire, from the north to the south and even on Klein Bonaire. The largest of these salt lakes, Peklemeer, offers a much-needed rest stop for a number of migratory bird species while also serving as an important breeding ground for the Caribbean Flamingo and five different tern species.