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The values of the Wadden Sea

The Wadden Sea is heritage. That means we think the area is important. It has a special value for us. We want to pass on the values of the Wadden Sea to future generations. So we want to protect the area. Do you? And why?

Last updated on 03-07-2023

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  • Zeehondenmoeder en pup
  • Wadden Sea
  • Zeehondenpup
  • Scholeksters

    What does the Wadden Sea mean to you?

    The Wadden Sea is extremely important to us. Not just because it is the habitat of the seals. But many other animals and plants also depend on the Wadden Sea. Furthermore many people depend on the Wadden Sea; they live on the coast or on the islands and eat the fish that are caught there. We also think the Wadden Sea is simply very beautiful. These are the values of the Wadden Sea for us.

    Many people find the Wadden Sea important. This differs per person: different people have different values. Some people find the Wadden Sea especially important because many birds make a stop in the Wadden Sea area on their migration from the Arctic to Africa. Other people especially like the wide landscape and walking in the mud. And other people find it very special that the landscape is constantly changing; after all, the Wadden Sea is different every hour.

    UNESCO World Heritage

    As so many people think that the Wadden Sea has special values, UNESCO recognizes the Wadden Sea as a World Heritage Site. This means that UNESCO believes that the Wadden Sea is important for everyone in the world: it has an Exceptional Universal Value. UNESCO has determined that by a criteria of ten points. The Wadden Sea meets the last three of those ten criteria.

    Criterion 8: Geological processes

    The Wadden Sea is constantly changing. Ebb and flow alternate: twice a day the Wadden Sea changes from sea to land and back again. Together with the wind, the tide ensures that sand and silt disappear in some places, while remain in other places. The tide makes the area very dynamic. Islands, sandbanks, arbours, channels, salt marshes and dunes are formed, shifted and broken down again. That process goes on constantly, in most places without human intervention. It happens almost nowhere in the world that an area can form itself in this way. It is very special that this is possible in the Wadden Sea.

    Criterion 9: Ecological and biological processes

    Many different plants and animals live in the Wadden Sea. Many of these plants and animals occur in large numbers. In other words, there is a large biodiversity and a large biomass. Many animal and plant species like places where two areas merge. In the Wadden Sea, land turns into sea and fresh water turns into salt. That is why many animals and plants feel like home there.

    The Wadden Sea is especially important for migrating birds who stop there during their journey from, for example, Greenland to West Africa. They find a lot of food here. The Wadden Sea is therefore also extremely important for life in other places in the world where other animal and plant species depend on these migrating birds.

    Criterion 10: Biodiversity

    Up to 10,000 species of plants and animals live in the Wadden Sea. Because there is so much food for birds, up to 6.1 million birds can live in the Wadden Sea at the same time. Up to 12 million birds pass through the area every year. In addition to having plenty of food, there is little disturbance to birds, allowing them to rest in peace during their long journeys from the north to the south of the planet and back again. Some species fly all the way from northern Greenland, Canada and Russia via the Wadden Sea to western and southern Africa, such as the Bissagos Islands in Guinea-Bissau and Banc d'Arguin in Mauritania.

    Did you know...

    The Wadden Sea is not only important for biodiversity in the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark, but The Wadden Sea is important for a huge part of the world? 

    Conservation of the Wadden Sea

    Because of these geological, ecological and biological processes and the large biodiversity and mass, UNESCO believes that the Wadden Sea should be protected. We wholeheartedly agree with that. The Wadden Sea is extremely important. Not only in itself, but also because many species and areas in other places on Earth depend on this area. In addition, attention to geological, biological and ecological processes and biodiversity is important for everyone important. After all, the existence of everyone in the world depends on it. Yet the Wadden Sea is still threatened in various ways. That is why we are committed to a healthy and sustainable future for the Wadden Sea.

    Rijksdienst voor het Cultureel Erfgoed. Waddenzee: Uitzonderlijke Universele Waarden (OUVs). 2019.
    Wadden Sea World Heritage. One Wadden Sea: One Global Heritage.