Wadden Sea Newsletter No.34

Wadden Sea Newsletter No.34

Dear reader,

Regrettably this is the last issue of the Wadden Sea Newsletter. Due to the impending expiration of the communication officer's contract, it will not be possible to continue issuing the Newsletter in this format for the time being.


Wadden Sea 2013: Celebrating 40 years of salt marshes research

This year’s Wadden Sea Day was dedicated to the fascinating topic of salt marshes. Over 80 scientists, managers, policy makers and other Wadden Sea stakeholders participated in the conference to discuss challenges and prospects for the future of this indispensable part of the Wadden Sea ecosystem. The conference was aimed to shed light on the current challenges of this sensitive habitat and was focused on two major themes: Biodiversity and Management and Restoration.

“Salt marshes research is a success story”, says Peter Südbeck, the Head of the Wadden Sea National Park Administration in Lower Saxony, - “we have managed to provide the highest protection status to this large area, and this is in the middle of Europe.” 

The salt marshes of the Wadden Sea, that constitute 20% of the total European salt marshes area, are considered to be a well-researched habitat. For over 40 years of research in Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark, a comprehensive body of knowledge has been collected, which contributed greatly to the salt marshes conservation. In this context, the trilateral Salt Marsh and Dunes Expert Group is aiming for a harmonized monitoring and management approach within the three Wadden Sea countries.

The experts recommend  to give priority to the conservation  and restoration of salt marshes, wherever this is attainable, guided by the Targets of the trilateral Wadden Sea Plan, which states that the present area of salt marshes shall not be reduced, and that  the area with natural dynamics shall be extended where possible. Equally important is the improvement of natural morphology and dynamics, including natural drainage for the salt marshes on mainland, provided the current salt marshes area would not be reduced. Biodiversity on the global scale is reliant on the Wadden Sea, and the biodiversity in the Wadden Sea depends largely on the salt marshes, which once again was underlined by the presentations.

Over the last decades the so-called ageing of salt marshes has been regarded as one of the main problems, associated with a decrease in species diversity. Various projects on the salt marshes re-naturation, e.g. the opening of summer dikes, identified measurable success in restoring of natural dynamic processes.   

“Salt marshes, apart from being an ecosystem of an extraordinary beauty, are also an integral part of the Wadden Sea World Heritage and we have global responsibility to preserve it for generations to come, - concludes Jens Enemark, the Head of the Wadden Sea secretariat.

The Conference was jointly organised by the Lower Saxony National Park Administration and the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat in Wilhelmshaven.

The Wadden Sea Day programme can be downloaded here.

UNESCO's IUCN experts on a mission in the Wadden Sea

Today two representatives from IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), Dr. Oliver Avramovski from Macedonia and Dr. Wendy Strahm from Switzerland, completed a one-week journey – the field mission – during which they visited parts of the Wadden Sea that are nominated for an extension of the Wadden Sea World Heritage. The nominated property encompasses the Danish Wadden Sea Conservation Area and an offshore extension of the Lower Saxon Wadden Sea National Park.

The nomination dossier for these parts of the Wadden Sea was submitted to the UNESCO World Heritage Center in  Paris earlier this year and the field mission is the next stage of the property evaluation by IUCN experts. The main aim of the field mission is for the experts to become familiar with all the aspects of the nominated property and make sure that the nomination dossier is complete.

“We are proud and confident presenting the nominated property to the IUCN experts. We very much hope that Denmark and further areas of Lower Saxony will join the Wadden Sea World Heritage and we will finally have the entire area of the Wadden Sea designated and included in the prestigious World Heritage List”, - says Jens Enemark, Head of the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat, that coordinates the nomination process.

The field mission programme included a visit of major Wadden Sea stakeholders in Denmark and Lower Saxony, such as the National Park Authorities, the Danish Nature Agency, the National Park Boards  and Common Wadden Sea Secretariat. The nominated Danish part of the Wadden Sea was of a special interest for the IUCN representatives. The experts had acquired comprehensive information about the Danish Wadden Sea through the meetings with the National Park Board at the information center Myrthuegård, representatives from the tourism sector, scientists,  education organisations, site mangers and municipal authorities. In addition, the delegation  had an opportunity to experience the nature on foot by taking a walk on dikes and in salt marshes of Skallingen in Denmark and taking part in the tidal flat tour in Lower Saxony as well as to see the area from a bird’s-eye view by flying over the Wadden Sea from Esbjerg to Wilhelmshaven.

After the field mission, the experts will compile an evaluation report that will be further examined by IUCN World Heritage Panel together with the Nomination Dossier.  The decision on the nomination of the Danish and Lower Saxon extension of the World Heritage property is expected to be taken at the World Heritage Committee annual session in June 2014 in Qatar.

The complete programme of the field mission can be downloaded here.


Above (from left to right): IUCN experts with the Wadden Sea hosts: (from left to right) Jens Enemark (CWSS), Peter Ilsøe (Ministry of the Environment, Denmark), Kai-Uwe Bielefeld (Chair National Park Advisory Board, Lower Saxony), Peter Südbeck (Head of the Wadden Sea National Park of Lower Saxony), Wendy Strahm (IUCN), Oliver Avramovski (IUCN), Elsa Nickel (Federal Ministry for the Environment, Germany), Kay Nitsche (Federal Ministry for the Environment, Germany), Hubertus Hebbelmann (Ministry of Environment, Lower Saxony).

Below: IUCN experts visited the Danish part of the Wadden Sea

Publication: Moulting Shelduck in the Wadden Sea 2010-2012

In the past, almost all the West European Shelducks moulted in the German part of the Wadden Sea, where they have been systematically counted. They reached up to 200,000 birds since the late 1980s. Within the last years, about a quarter of the moulting Shelducks in the Wadden Sea shifted from the German to the Dutch part of the Wadden Sea for yet unknown reasons. In order to conduct a systematic monitoring of the Shelduck, which is a Natura 2000 species, in addition to German counts the presented study recommends trilaterally harmonized counts also in the Wadden Sea in the Netherlands and Denmark, if possible, combined with summer counts of (moulting) Eider.

To download the report on the Shelduck please click here.

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