Why are the Wadden a Unesco World Heritage site?
For thousands of years, the Wadden Sea nature reserve has been changing from Den Helder to Esjbjerg (Denmark). Every day it’s remade again. The Wadden have been declared a World Heritage Site for the following three reasons.
Young and original
The last ice age ended around 10,000 years ago. The transition to a warmer climate started 7,000 years ago. The North Sea filled up again and this is how the Wadden Sea area was created. Thus, it is still very young compared to other nature reserves. The wind, tide and currents of the water form the Wadden Sea every day, they reform the dunes, salt marshes and sandbanks, but after a violent storm these can be completely different the next day. Yet it is clear to see how the landscape was originally formed.
Unique and varied
With an area of 10,000 km2, this is the largest contiguous wetland on earth and therefore unique in the world. An enormous diversity of plants and animals are present in the channels, salt marshes and on the dunes and sandbanks. Every year millions of migratory birds make a stopover in the Wadden region to take advantage of the enormous food supply. The Wadden Sea is also the nursery of the North Sea where millions of flatfish, birds and other fish are born and grow up.
Naturally powerful and dynamic
Fresh and salty, wet and dry, strong and weak currents; plants and animals must be able to deal with it all here. They must constantly adapt to the weather, the wind and the tide. Only the strongest species survive the salty Wadden region.
How did the Wadden Sea actually get this name?
The tide makes the Wadden Sea dry twice a day. One moment only water can be seen, but the next moment large tidal flats appear. During low tide you can walk or wade through the Wadden Sea in many places, hence the Dutch name “Wadden Sea”, in Frisian it is the “Waadsee”; the fordable sea.