Wadden Sea in the Forefront of Renewable Energy Development

(c) CWSSThe seventh annual Wadden Sea scientific conference that took place on the occasion the 25th anniversary of the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat in Wilhelmshaven, was dedicated to one of the most pressing issues of today’s public debate – energy transition. Over 80 experts from the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark in energy sector and nature protection organisations participated in the conference. The speakers provided insights into recent developments in the energy sector and discussed how to address the challenges to mitigate climate change, protect and maintain the outstanding universal value of the Wadden Sea World Heritage. In particular, the experts examined the progress in transformation of the Wadden Sea region into a CO²-neutral area by 2030 as agreed by the Sylt Declaration 2010. The recent progress in the energy sector on the coast contribute to this objective, but at the same time this may increase pressure on the sensitive ecosystem of the Wadden Sea. It has been commonly agreed that energy experts will have to closely cooperate with local authorities and nature protection organization to assess and mitigate the potential risks for the Wadden Sea.

Dr. Stefan Birkner, the Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Protection of Lower Saxony, welcomed the participants and congratulated the CWSS and his head Jens Enemark on its anniversary, underlining the major role the secretariat plays in conservation of the trilateral Wadden Sea area. Concerning the topic of the conference Birkner stated the leading position of the Lower Saxony in development of the renewable energy sources in Germany. The fact that Lower Saxony government has established its own climate commission points to the crucial importance of this issue for the state.

Peter Ilsøe, the Chairman of the Wadden Sea Board, took a look back at the 6th trilateral Wadden Sea Conference in Denmark in 1991, the first conference prepared under the auspices of the CWSS, which laid cornerstones for trilateral policies with regard to energy resources, i.e. a strong limitation of oil and gas exploration and exploitation and a ban on the construction of wind turbines within the Wadden Sea. Although there are no wind turbines directly in the Wadden Sea, the offshore windparks and the energy production facilities developed at the border of the Wadden Sea are relevant for the future of the ecosystem.

Peter Herman, from the Radboud University of Nijmegen, pointed out that the Wadden Sea with its islands offers small well-defined units ideal for tests of new ways to produce and consume energy. He stated that “the Wadden Sea researchers can provide scientific facts about the climate developments, related to the energy sector, but the decision-making power lies in hands of politicians.” Peter Südbeck, the Director of the Lower Saxony National Park Administration, highlighted the progress of the Lower Saxony National Park and Biosphere Reserve towards sustainable development and management. For example, the island of Juist is currently developing a local strategy for reaching a status of CO²-free island by 2020. Best practice examples from  Nordfriesland and Bavaria demonstrated the importance of local population engagement, awareness building and cross-border and cross-sector cooperation.

The conference was held within the framework of 25th anniversary of the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat.  The CWSS is a world-wide unique inter-governmental coordinating facility that is aimed at transboundary protection of an entire ecosystem. The secretariat was established in 1987 to facilitate and support the nature protection activities of the Dutch-German-Danish Wadden Sea Cooperation. CWSS is responsible for collection and appraisal of information on monitoring, protection and ecological condition of the Wadden Sea. One of the greatest achievements of the Cooperation was the inscription of the Dutch-German Wadden Sea into the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2009. CWSS, who was coordinating the nomination, is a central contact point on the Wadden Sea World Heritage issue. Today CWSS, situated in Wilhelmshaven, has nine members of staff, including its unchanged Head for 25 years - Jens Enemark.

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

Photo: Peter Ilsøe, Peter Südbeck, Jens Enemark, Dr. Birkner, Peter Herman.

Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative: Linking Methods and People

A succesful West-Africa Regional monitoring workshop for Wadden Sea birds in Dakar.

From the migratory birds’ perspective, the Wadden Sea is a crucial part of the meta-ecosystem that stretches from its arctic breeding grounds to the wintering areas in West-Africa and even further South. From the Wadden Sea perspective, the role of millions of migratory birds visiting the area during their live-cycle, are crucial to a healthy Wadden Sea ecosystem.

The Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative (WSFI) aims to improve conservation management of both the Wadden Sea  and its migratory birds, by  enhancing cooperation along the flyway. An important basis for evidence-based conservation management is up-to-date knowledge on bottlenecks along the flyway, the critical phase in the birds’yearly cycle, and general population trends. Therefore, one of the projects under the umbrella of the WSFI is to establish an International  Monitoring Framework for Wadden Sea waterbird populations. Key elements for this framework already exist, but gaps need to be filled and different initiatives to be linked.

Cooperation between the Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative, and the West-African ‘Conservation of Migratory Birds’ project of BirdLife International and Wetlands International proves to be succesful. During the first regional monitoring workshop in Dakar, June 2012, NGO and Governmental parties from Mauritania to Sierra Leone, where brought together, to work on a regional monitoring strategy. A big step forward is taken by combining  the West-African waterbird census of Wetlands International to the Important Bird Area (IBA) Species, Pressure and Site monitoring methodology of BirdLife International. The BirdLife International idea of Local Caretaker Groups is incorporated in the programme. Local people will be trained to carrying out the monitoring, thus aiming to make it a more sustainable regional activity. This new monitoring system for the West-African region can be used as an early warning for Wadden Sea bird populations and ecosystems along the flyway.

Source text and photo: Programma Natuur, Afdeling Bescherming

Korean Eco-tourism Experts Enjoy the Wadden Sea World Heritage

A group of four Korean experts for eco-tourism took part in a package holiday tour and experienced sustainable tourism in the Schleswig-Holstein Wadden Sea region. Together with seven German holidaymakers, the Korean colleagues enjoyed the programme “Weltnaturerbe Wattenmeer: Einzigartige Naturerlebnisse an der Nordsee” and not only dived deep into the fascinating nature and landscape of the Wadden Sea, but also got vivid impressions of eco-friendly travelling in small groups.

As one of the first package offers for sustainable travel in the Wadden Sea region, the tour has been developed by the German tour operator SKR together with WWF Germany according to the principles of sustainable tourism, such as accommodation in eco-certified hotels, bio-regional catering in local restaurants, local mobility on foot, by bike and public transportation, nature-friendly activities respecting conservation, and competent guiding by local tour guides. The 7-day tour offer started in 2012 and has been conducted five times so far.
The aim of the Korean colleagues, representatives from the Eco-Horizon Institute and the Korean section of YMCA, was to get insight into the development and implementation of sustainable tourism offers in the Wadden Sea region as inspiration for the development of eco-tourism related to the Korean tidal flats. Along with the regular tour guide, WWF Germany accompanied the group, gave background information on the tour concept and provided English translations.

The visit was conducted within the “Memorandum of Understanding Wadden Sea – Korea”.  

Cooperation Promotes Climate-Friendly Travel

Lower Saxony, Schleswig-Holstein and Deutsche Bahn (DB) jointly develop offers for sustainable travel to the Wadden Sea. 

This August and September a unique tourism cross-border cooperation promotes sustainable travelling to the Wadden Sea UNESCO World Heritage. The partners Tourismus-Agentur Schleswig-Holstein GmbH, Nordsee-Tourismus-Service GmbH, TourismusMarketing Niedersachsen GmbH, Die Nordsee GmbH and DB Vertrieb GmbH have developed travel offers under the brand “Fahrziel Natur” (Destination Nature) that are being sold by the DB-Daughter company Ameropa. They are characterized by the combination of travelling by train with 100% green electricity with offers on the Wadden Sea-unique experience. The trips can be booked online at www.fahrtziel-natur.de/wattenmeer or at travel agencies. Attractive offers of National Park partners complete the portfolio.

The guests, who arrive at the coast in an environmentally friendly way – by train – remain mobile on site, especially in Ostfriesland, where a bus trip for € 1 is offered ("Urlauberbus für'n €"). The bus takes guests to the ferry docks, among others to the car-free islands of Juist, Baltrum, Spiekeroog Langeoog and Wangerooge. For travelers wishing to be mobile in Schleswig-Holstein, the islands of Sylt and Föhr with their well-developed bus infrastructure are especially recommendable.

In 2009 the Wadden Sea was inscribed into the UNESCO World Heritage list. The Wadden Sea stretches along 400 km of Dutch-German coastline. Conditions for inclusion of the site in the World Heritage List are its outstanding universal value, its integrity, and the protected status of the area. The Wadden Sea meets these criteria offering habitat for 10,000 plant and animal species. Each year, up to twelve million migratory birds rest in the Wadden Sea on their way from the breeding grounds in Siberia, Scandinavia and even Canada, to the wintering grounds in Western Europe and Africa.

More information and nature trip offers are available at www.fahrtziel-natur.de/wattenmeer. Fahrtziel Natur is a collaboration of three major environmental organizations BUND, NABU, VCD and Deutsche Bahn to promote environmentally friendly travelling and preservation of natural landscapes.

Source: TourismusMarketing Niedersachsen GmbH; tourismus-agentur schleswig-holstein GmbH (tash); Deutsche Bahn
Translation and adaptation: CWSS

Poster: Discover and Protect the Wadden Sea

The new WWF Wadden Sea Poster is perfect for discoveries: over 40 distinctive plant and animal species of the Wadden Sea are mapped and labeled in four languages in their typical habitat. The poster is a great addition to the booklet for school children "Das Watt steckt voller Wunder " and can be used as pre- or post-material for the Wadden Sea-class trips and lessons about the Wadden Sea.

Within the framework of the Interreg project "PROWAD Protect & Prosper - Sustainable Tourism in the Wadden Sea", the poster will contribute to environmental education and visitor information in the Wadden Sea World Heritage and the national parks and is being distributed free of charge in most visitor centers on the coast. Subscribers of the WWF Teacher-Newsletters can order a free copy at anja.szczesinski@wwf.de

Poster for the Wadden Sea centers
Order at info@idee-konzept.de (delivery costs to be covered).

Trilateral Meetings

13-14 September 2012
Task Group Management (TG-M)

18 September
Task Group Climate (TG-C)

19 September
Task Group Sustainable Tourism Strategy (TG-STS)

4 October
Task Group World Heritage (TG-WH)

5 October
Wadden Sea Board-6 (WSB)

09-10 October 2012
Task Group Climate (TG-C)

22 November 2012
Trilateral Data Handling Group (TDG)

26-27 November 2012
Joint Monitoring Breeding/Migratory Birds group (JMBB/JMMB)

A complete overview is at: http://www.waddensea-secretariat.org/trilat/meetings/meetings.html