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The Wadden Sea

The Wadden Sea

The Wadden Sea comprises the Dutch Wadden Sea Conservation Area and the German Wadden Sea National Parks of Lower Saxony and Schleswig-Holstein. It is a large temperate, relatively flat coastal wetland environment, formed by the intricate interactions between physical and biological factors that have given rise to a multitude of transitional habitats with tidal channels, sandy shoals, sea-grass meadows, mussel beds, sandbars, mudflats, salt marshes, estuaries, beaches and dunes. The inscribed site represents over 66% of the whole Wadden Sea and is home to numerous plant and animal species, including marine mammals such as the harbour seal, grey seal and harbour porpoise. It is also a breeding and wintering area for up to 12 millions birds per annum and it supports more than 10 percent of 29 species. The site is one of the last remaining natural, large-scale, intertidal ecosystems where natural processes continue to function largely undisturbed.

La mer des Wadden

La mer des Wadden comprend l'Aire de conservation de la mer des Wadden néerlandaise et les Parcs nationaux allemands de la mer des Wadden de Basse-Saxe et Schleswig-Holstein. Cet écosystème tempéré de zones humides côtières est le fruit d'interactions particulièrement complexes entre des facteurs physiques et biologiques. On y trouve une multitude d'habitats de transition : chenaux à marée, bancs de sable, prairies d'herbe marines, moulières, barres de sable, vasières, marais salés, estuaires, plages et dunes. Le site représente 66% de l'ensemble de la mer des Wadden et il héberge de nombreuses espèces de plantes et d'animaux, dont des mammifères marins comme le phoque commun, le phoque gris et le marsouin commun. Il s'agit aussi d'un site de reproduction et d'hivernage pour plus de 12 millions d'oiseaux par an. Pour 29 espèces d'oiseaux, la mer des Wadden accueille plus de 10% de la population migratrice. Le site est un des derniers écosystèmes intertidaux naturels à grande échelle où les processus naturels se poursuivent de manière quasi non perturbée.

بحر وادِّن

تتشكل هذه المنطقة الواسعة المكونة من أراض رطبة ساحلية ومسطحة نسبياً التي تتسم بمناخ معتدل من تفاعلات متشابكة بين العوامل الطبيعية والبيولوجية التي أفضت إلى وجود الكثير من الموائل المتداخلة ذات القنوات المدّ الجزرية، وتراكم المياه الضحلة الرملية، وتكوين مروج الأعشاب البحرية، وتوافر بلح قاع البحر، والمرتفعات الرملية، والأراضي الطينية، والمستنقعات المالحة، والمصبات، والشواطئ الرملية وحقول الكثبان. ويشمل هذا الممتلك الطبيعي محمية منطقة بحر وادِّن في هولندا ومنتزهات بحر وادِّن الوطنية الألمانية الواقعة في ولاية سكسونيا السفلى وشليسويغ ـ هولشتين. كما يُمثل الممتلك أكثر من 66℅ من بحر وادِّن، ويأوي العديد من الأنواع النباتية والحيوانية، بما فيها الثدييات البحرية، مثل عجول البحر، والفُقَم الرمادية وخنازير البحر. ويُعتبر هذا الممتلك أيضاً موئلاً تتكاثر فيه، سنوياً، طيور يبلغ عددها 12 مليون، وتعيش فيه أثناء فصل الشتاء. كما أنه يُعد مأوى لأكثر من 10℅ من 29 نوعاً من الطيور. وهذا الموقع هو أحد النظم الإيكولوجية الطبيعية الواسعة النطاق الباقية والخاصة بمناطق الجزر، حيث تتواصل الظواهر الطبيعية على نحو مستقر في معظم الأحوال.

source: UNESCO/ERI

Mar de las Wadden

El Mar de las Wadden agrupa el Área de Conservación del Mar de las Wadden de los Países Bajos y los Parques Nacionales del Mar de las Wadden de los lands alemanes de la Baja Sajonia y Schleswig-Holstein. Es un ecosistema templado de zonas húmedas costeras relativamente llanas producto de una interacción compleja de factores físicos y biológicos, que ha creado un gran cúmulo de hábitats de transición con canales de marea, bancos y barras de arena, praderas de algas, mejilloneras, fangales y marismas. El sitio representa 66% del conjunto del Mar de las Wadden y alberga numerosas especies vegetales y animales, entre las que se cuentan mamíferos marinos como la foca común, la foca gris y la marsopa común. Cada año sirve de lugar de reproducción e invernada a doce millones de pájaros, acogiendo un 10% de la población de 29 especies migratorias. Este sitio es uno de los últimos grandes ecosistemas de zona intermareas, donde los procesos naturales se siguen desarrollando de forma prácticamente intacta.

source: UNESCO/ERI

Waddenzee

Het deel van de Waddenzee dat tot werelderfgoed behoort, omvat het Nederlands en Duitse deel en beslaat 66% van de hele Waddenzee. Het is een niet erg diep watergebied met een relatief vlakke kust. Het leefgebied heeft getijdengeulen, zeegras-weiden, mosselbanken, zandbanken, wadden, zoutmoerassen, stranden en duinen. Er komt een groot aantal planten- en diersoorten voor, waaronder zeezoogdieren zoals de gewone zeehond, de grijze zeehond en de bruinvis. Het is ook de broedplaats en het overwinteringsgebied voor 10 tot 12 miljoen vogels per jaar. Het gebied is een van de laatst overgebleven grootschalige bij eb droogvallende ecosystemen waar natuurlijke processen blijven functioneren.

Source: unesco.nl

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The Wadden Sea © Klaus Dieter Meinen
Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

The Wadden Sea is the largest unbroken system of intertidal sand and mud flats in the world, with natural processes undisturbed throughout most of the area. It encompasses a multitude of transitional zones between land, the sea and freshwater environment, and is rich in species specially adapted to the demanding environmental conditions. It is considered one of the most important areas for migratory birds in the world, and is connected to a network of other key sites for migratory birds. Its importance is not only in the context of the East Atlantic Flyway but also in the critical role it plays in the conservation of African-Eurasian migratory waterbirds. In the Wadden Sea up to 6.1 million birds can be present at the same time, and an average of 10-12 million pass through it each year.

Criterion (viii): The Wadden Sea is a depositional coastline of unparalleled scale and diversity. It is distinctive in being almost entirely a tidal flat and barrier system with only minor river influences, and an outstanding example of the large-scale development of an intricate and complex temperate-climate sandy barrier coast under conditions of rising sea-level. Highly dynamic natural processes are uninterrupted across the vast majority of the property, creating a variety of different barrier islands, channels, flats, gullies, saltmarshes and other coastal and sedimentary features. It is also one of the best-studied coastal areas on the planet, providing lessons of wider scientific importance for wetland and coastal management of international importance.

Criterion (ix): The Wadden Sea is one of the last remaining natural large-scale intertidal ecosystems, where natural processes continue to function largely undisturbed. Its geological and geomorphologic features are closely entwined with biophysical processes and provide an invaluable record of the ongoing dynamic adaptation of coastal environments to global change. There are a multitude of transitional zones between land, sea and freshwater that are the basis for the species richness of the property. The productivity of biomass in the Wadden Sea is one of the highest in the world, most significantly demonstrated in the numbers of fish, shellfish and birds supported by the property. The property is a key site for migratory birds and its ecosystems sustain wildlife populations well beyond its borders.

Criterion (x): Coastal wetlands are not always the richest sites in relation to faunal diversity, however this is not the case for the Wadden Sea. The salt marshes host around 2,300 species of flora and fauna, and the marine and brackish areas a further 2,700 species, and 30 species of breeding birds. The clearest indicator of the importance of the property is the support it provides to migratory birds as a staging, moulting and wintering area. Up to 6.1 million birds can be present at the same time, and an average of 10-12 million each year pass through the property. The availability of food and a low level of disturbance are essential factors that contribute to the key role of the nominated property in supporting the survival of migratory species. The nominated property is the essential stopover that enables the functioning of the East Atlantic and African-Eurasian migratory flyways. Biodiversity on a worldwide scale is reliant on the Wadden Sea.

Integrity

The boundaries of the property include all of the habitat types, features and processes that exemplify a natural and dynamic Wadden Sea. The large area of the property encompasses over 66% of the entire Wadden Sea ecosystems and is sufficient to maintain the critical ecological processes and to protect the key features and values. However the inscribed property would be strengthened by its further extension to include the area of the Wadden Sea which lies within the territory of Denmark. The property is subject to a comprehensive protection, management and monitoring regime which is supported by adequate human and financial resources. Human use and influences are well regulated with clear and agreed targets. Activities that are incompatible with its conservation have either been banned, or are heavily regulated and monitored to ensure they do not impact adversely on the property. As the property is surrounded by a significant population and contains human uses, the continued priority for the protection and conservation of the Wadden Sea is an important feature of the planning and regulation of use, including within land/water-use plans, the provision and regulation of coastal defences, maritime traffic and drainage. Key threats requiring ongoing attention include fisheries activities, harbours, industrial facilities and maritime traffic, residential and tourism development and climate change.

Protection and management requirements

Maintaining the hydrological and ecological processes of the contiguous tidal flat system of the Wadden Sea is an overarching requirement for the protection and integrity of this property. Therefore conservation of marine, coastal and freshwater ecosystems through the effective management of protected areas, including marine no-take zones, is essential.  The effective management of the property also needs to ensure an ecosystem approach that integrates the management of the existing protected areas with other key activities occurring in the property, including fisheries, shipping and tourism. Specific expectations for the long-term conservation and management of this property include maintaining and enhancing the level of financial and human resources required for the effective management of the property. Research, monitoring and assessment of the protected areas that make up the property also require adequate resources to be provided. Maintenance of consultation and participatory approaches in planning and management of the property is needed to reinforce the support and commitment from local communities and NGOs to the conservation and management of the property. The State Parties should also maintain their commitment of not allowing oil and gas exploration and exploitation within the boundaries of the property. Any development projects, such as planned wind farms in the North Sea, should be subject of rigorous Environmental Impacts Assessments to avoid any impacts to the values and integrity of the property.