Memorandum of Understanding Banc d'Arguin - Wadden Sea

Twinning two World Heritage Sites

At the 12th Trilateral Governmental Wadden Sea Conference in Tønder, Denmark, the Park National Banc d’Arguin and the Trilateral Cooperation signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which aims for a closer cooperation of both World Heritage sites, especially on migratory bird protection.

Joint Flyer Wadden Sea - Banc d'Arguin, September 2016

The Common Wadden Sea Secretariat and the National Park Banc d'Arguin produced a joint World Heritage Flyer to demonstrate the East Atlantic Flyway partnership for the conservation of tidal flat ecosystems. The flyer addresses World Heritage, biodiversity, management and sustainable use of the unique marine ecosystems. Information about the Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative demonstrates the joint efforts and responsibility of migratory waterbird conservation of both World Heritage Sites.

The digital versions of the flyer in French and English can be downloaded below.

Joint Side Event at the 39th WHC Bonn, July 2015

At the side event “The Wadden Sea and Beech Forests – Transboundary management of World Heritage sites as a contribution to global World Heritage conservation ”, both government officials and conservationists stressed the need for transboundary management to conserve unique ecosystems that stretch across borders. This event was co-organized by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMUB), the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)  the Hessian Ministry of the Environment and the CWSS at the world Conference Center Bonn (WCCB) and received considerable attention from WHC participants as well as representatives of Bonn-based United Nations Organizations.  Rüdiger Strempel provided an introductory statement on the Wadden Sea World Heritage, the Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative and cooperation with the Banc d’Arguin National Park (PNBA) in Mauritania. Further speakers included Dr. Christiane Paulus (Deputy Director General for Nature Conservation, German Federal Ministry for the Environment),  Ebaye Ould Mohamed Mahmoud (Deputy Director, PNBA), Dr. Lemhaba Ould Yarba (Scientific Director, PNBA) and Dr. Jutta Leyrer (Michael-Otto-Institut/NABU).

Photos: Gerold Lüerßen
The Mauritanian delegation, BMUB delegates and CWSS discussed the the joint work plan set up in September 2014. The meeting agreed to organize a joint side event at the AEWA MOP6 in Bonn on 9 Nov to 14 Nov. Additionally the Mauritanians will participate in a migratory bird workshop which will be organized by the Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative at the same AEWA meeting.

Delegates of two World Heritage sites at the 39th WHC meeting Bonn, 6 July 2015

Banc d'Arguin signed Flyway Vision, October 2014

At the opening event of the 6th Zugvogeltage in Wilhelmshaven on 10 October 2014, Aly Ould Mohamed Salem, Director of the National Park Banc d'Arguin signed in the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding between Banc d'Arguin and the Wadden Sea the Flyway Vision of the Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative. At the same time also Prof. Franz Bairlein, Director of the Institute of Avian Research, Thomas Clemens of the Mellumrat e.V, Werner Menke, Chair of the Wissnschaftliche Arbeitsgemeinschaft Natur- und Umweltschutz Jever e.V. (WAU and Herwig Zwang, Chair of the Niedersächsischen Ornithologischen Vereinigung (NOV) were signing the Flyway Vision.

Aly Ould Mohamed Salem (left) and Prof.Franz Bairlein signing the Wadden Sea Flyway Vision. Photo: I. Zwoch

Maitre Aly, talking about the importance of Banc d'Arguin and Wadden Sea for the East Atlantic Flyway. Photo: I. Zwoch

Sidi Mohamed Lehlou, Holger Barkowsky, Dr. Juliane Köhler, Peter Südbeck, Dr. Jutta Leyrer, Maitre Aly und Stefan Wenzel (from left). Photo: I. Zwoch


Visit of Banc d'Arguin delegation at Wadden Sea Day, September 2014

In the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding between Banc d'Arguin and the Wadden Sea Maitre Aly Mohamed Salem, director of the National Park and World Heritage site Banc d'Arguin PNBA, Mauritania and his scientific consultant Dr Lemhaba Ould Yarba visited the Wadden Sea. The Mauritanian delegation was accompanied by Dr Jutta Leyrer, integrated CIM expert at PNBA, advisor to the director and ornithologist and Mr Hacen el-Hacen, PhD student at the University Groningen and associated employee of PNBA. The group went along the Wadden Sea coast of Niedersachsen visiting prominent viewpoints, Wadden Sea centres and bird watching stations.
At a meeting with Dutch scientists and members of the University of Groningen the delegation discussed the implementation of the planned new research station in Iwik in Banc d'Arguin.
The delegation in Schillig. From left: Mr Lemhaba, Maitre Aly, Ms Leyrer and Mr Gerold Lüerßen. Photo: Hacen el-Hacen

Mr Lemhaba and Maitre Aly sitting in a traditional beach chair, Schillig. Photo: Gerold Lüerßen
To invigorate the MoU the Mauritanian delegation and participants of the National Park Wadden Sea Niedersachsen, the UNESCO, BMUB and the CWSS set up a draft action plan for the years 2014-2016.

Delegates of UNESCO, Banc d'Arguin, National Park Niedersächsisches Wattenmeer and CWSS. Photo: Hacen el-Hacen
The visit of the Wadden Sea Day in Wilhelmshaven on 28 August with more than 200 Wadden Sea experts gave the Mauritanians an excellent insight on how the Wadden Sea is managed and the opportunity to talk to Wadden Sea authorities of different sectors. The nearly one week visit ended on Friday 29 August.

Visit of UNESCO and CWSS at the Banc d'Arguin, March 2013

Gerold Lüerßen and Jens Enemark, CWSS, visited the Banc d´Arguin, Mauritania, 9-14 March 2013, by invitation of the director of the UNESCO World Heritage Center as part of an official UNESCO mission lead by Fanny Douvere of the Marine Program. The objectives of the mission were to explore a closer cooperation between the Wadden Sea World Heritage and the Banc d´Arguin and the possibility of the designation of the Banc d´Arguin as a Particularly Sensitive Sea Area (PSSA) similar to the Wadden Sea.

The Banc d´Arguin is the most important wintering area for migratory birds passing through the Wadden Sea. It hosts a winter population of some 2.5-3 million birds. The site was already inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1989, 20 years before the Wadden Sea. It is a tidal area very similar to the Wadden Sea. The National Park covers an area of some 12,000 km2 of which half is the marine area and the other half is a desert. A major difference between the Banc d’ Arguin and the Wadden Sea is that the mudflat area is significantly smaller, some 63,000 ha. compared to some 450,000 ha. The mudflats are all covered with dense beautiful sea grass. It is still a bit of a puzzle how such a small mudflat area can sustain so many migratory birds during winter time.

View on Banc d'Arguin. Photo: Gerold Lüerßen
The visit to the park was led by the director Maître Aly Ould Mohamed Salem. It included a travel along more than half of the coast line of the park including a sailing tour into the park. During the three days visit it was possible to obtain a reasonable impression of the property, its importance for biodiversity, and the development threats and management challenges. The property is a rather pristine area with a high level of protection that strictly regulates human activities, and a good management system based on-location management units. Fishery is e.g. only allowed with a limited number of non-motorized fishing boats for the inhabitants of the area, the Imraguen people. The enforcement of the restriction is controlled by boats belonging to the park administration. Information centers can be found in the park as well as a new large one which has been built at the highway just outside of the park.

Talks and negotiations in traditional al-Ḫaima Maître Aly Ould Mohamed Salem & Fanny Douvere
Fisher boat in Banc d'Arguin Break during field trip along the coast
The Iwik meeting, Jens Enemark,Maître Aly, Fanny Douvere and Gerold Lüerßen Abundant sea grass in Banc d'Arguin

Photos: Gerold Lüerßen

There are, however, a number of activities predominantly at the fringe of the property which cause concern. These include the building of a new road into the park in the southern part, oil exploration off-shore, and gold mining in the northwestern part outside of the park where also a large town (Cham) is being built. Further mentioned should be the apparent increasing fishery outside the property.
It was exiting to visit the Banc d´Arguin and to watch at close range the migratory birds which we share and which thrive in their winter quarters at Banc d’Arguin, a tangible evidence of the intimate link between the Banc d´Arguin and the Wadden Sea World Heritage properties.

Movie about UNESCO marine programme including Wadden Sea and Banc d'Arguin

Visit the website of the National Park Banc d'Arguin