Common Wadden Sea Secretariat celebrates its 25th anniversary

On 1 November 1987, the secretariat opened its office in Wilhelmshaven, Germany. The decision to establish a common secretariat was taken at the 1985 Dutch-German-Danish Wadden Sea Ministerial Conference in The Hague, the Netherlands, in order to coordinate the efforts of the cooperation on the protection of the Wadden Sea, which had started in 1978.

Jens Enemark was designated as secretary and has been the head of the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat since then: “It was a privilege to assume the job and exiting to work for the joint protection of the Wadden Sea, the world´s largest tidal barrier islands system. Over the last 25 years a lot has been achieved through the excellent work with colleagues from the National Park administrations, the responsible authorities, representatives of the NGOs and scientists. The Wadden Sea protection is a success story,” - Jens Enemark states on the occasion of the anniversary.

Left: On the occasion of the 25th Anniversary, Ms. Elsa Nickel (BMU) congratulates the CWSS team (from left: Marijke Polanski, Jens Enemark, Folkert de Jong) at the Wadden Sea Day in Wilhelmshaven in August 2012.

The secretariat coordinates, supports and facilitates the work of the Cooperation. It prepares the meetings of the Wadden Sea Board and the task and expert groups, installed by the Board. Every three to four years the secretariat helps preparing a ministers conference with participation of the responsible ministers of the Wadden Sea countries. Additionally it collects information on the ecological state of the Wadden Sea through the joint Trilateral Monitoring and Assessment Program (TMAP) and publishes the results in regular Quality Status Reports and other reports.

A highlight of the last 25 year´s work was the inscription of the Dutch-German Wadden Sea on the World Heritage List in 2009. The recognition as a World Heritage property by the UNESCO is the highest international “award” a nature area can receive. This was made possible by the outstanding and comprehensive protection which the Wadden Sea enjoys, by excellent scientific information that is available on the Wadden Sea, and by the support of the people of the region. The Secretariat is the central coordination point for all matters related to the Wadden Sea World Heritage. “The World Heritage designation is a great opportunity to further strengthen the conservation of the Wadden Sea and to enhance the regional development,” states Jens Enemark and continues: “The expected designation of the Danish Wadden Sea as a World Heritage property will only help intensifying our collaboration”.

Currently, there are 6 permanently employed staff members and 3 employees working under a time limited contract. “Over the years we established an outstanding team, which I am very proud of. All nationalities of the Wadden Sea region are represented as well as the highest professional background, which we need to fulfill our job". In the beginning of 1988 Ms. Marijke Polanski (administration, finances, personnel, language support) and shortly after the biologist Bettina Reineking (protection of species and habitats, until 2007) were employed as first additional staff at the secretariat. Since 1990 the biologist Dr. Folkert de Jong (ecosystem management and sustainable development) has been member of the team. The biologist Dr. Harald Marencic joined in 1995 (World Heritage coordination, international cooperation) and in 1996 Mr. Gerold Lüerßen took over the position of data-coordinator. In February 2011, Ms Nataliya Drozdovych started her job as communication officer. In April 2012, Ms Anja Domnick (tourism manager PROWAD project) and Ms Simone Goth (project administration) joined the secretariat followed by Mr. Sascha Klöpper (TMAP coordination) in May 2012 (see photo below).
“It is a small unit but I feel that the Cooperation is well prepared to meet the present challenges of climate change, invasive species and to use the opportunities that the World Heritage designation offers. I am convinced that our work will be just as relevant and important the next 25 years”, concludes Jens Enemark.

The team of the Wadden Sea Secretariat (from left to right): Sascha Klöpper, Simone Goth, Anja Domnick, Nataliya Drozdovych, Gerold Lüerßen, Harald Marencic, Marijke Polanski, Jens Enemark, Folkert de Jong.

Trilateral Wadden Sea Symposium brought together over 200 scientists, policy-makers managers and other stakeholders

The 13th International Scientific Wadden Sea Symposium was held 21-23 November, in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands, bringing together over 200 scientists, policy-makers, managers and other stakeholders from the entire Wadden Sea region, Korea and Australia. The scientific Wadden Sea symposia are hosted every three years by one of the countries of the trilateral Wadden Sea Cooperation. They provide important scientific input to the Wadden Sea Ministerial Conferences, the next of which will take place in Denmark in February 2014.

The three-day Symposium focused on the role of science in the management of the Wadden Sea World Heritage site. This was the first symposium held after the Wadden Sea was inscribed on the World Heritage list, the highest international recognition achievable. “This symposium provided us with a very good overview of the challenges that we have to meet, to maintain the outstanding universal value of this magnificent area”, said Jens Enemark, secretary of the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat. It was acknowledged that, generally, there is not one science-based solution to a certain problem but that several options are possible. A plea was made for allowing more pluralism in the discussion on Wadden Sea protection and human use. In the session on climate and water, this was underlined by the urgent call for a dialogue between climate researchers and stakeholders from the Wadden Sea region to discuss possible options for adapting to sea level rise. Large-scale sand nourishment is one of these options. Because sand moves within the Wadden Sea, a cross-boundary approach was recommended.  Some participants warned that the long-term impacts on the system are unclear. The presentations and discussions in the theme biodiversity focused on the importance of biodiversity for the ecosystem. There is increasing scientific evidence that a higher biodiversity generally means that the Wadden Sea ecosystem will be more flexible and more resilient to changes. It was also demonstrated that mussel beds, especially large beds, are very important for Wadden Sea biodiversity and positively influence large parts of the tidal flats.

Three special guests had been invited to the symposium:
Prof. Karsten Reise from the Alfred Wegener Institute Wadden Sea Sylt was honored for his life-long efforts to understand the Wadden Sea ecosystem and for his central role in the preparation of the Wadden Sea World Heritage nomination.
Prof. Chul-hwan Koh from the Seoul National University introduced the Korean tidal flats, constituting 2,500 km2 of the coastal area adjacent to the Yellow Sea. He emphasized the importance of the cooperation between Korea and the Wadden Sea for the protection of Korean tidal flats which are under high pressure.
Dr. Fergus Molloy from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (Australia) provided valuable insight in the management of the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest nature heritage site. Especially, the method to prioritize the research agenda in relation to policy questions is worthwhile exploring for the Wadden Sea region.

Chairman of the Waddenacademie, Prof. Jouke van Dijk: ' This symposium is a very good starting point for the upcoming trilateral ministers conference early 2014, in Denmark. The coming months we will prioritize all scientific recommendations made during the symposium. Of course, we will do this in close collaboration with the scientific community in Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands.

All the presentations of the Symposium will be available for download next week at the Wadden Academy website (http://www.waddenacademie.nl/)

Photo: (c) Zwanette Jager

Seal Count 2012: More seals than ever before in the Wadden Sea

In 2012 the greatest number of Harbour and Grey seals since the beginning of the Wadden Sea-wide seal count in 1975 has been counted, informs the Trilateral Seal Expert group, consisting of experts from the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark. This year’s results mark the ninth year of a continuous growth of the seal population in the trilateral Wadden Sea area since the great seal epidemic in 2002, in which more than half of the population died. 

(c) Klaus JankeThe total count of 26,220 Harbour seals in the Wadden Sea was composed of 3,966 (570 pups) in Denmark, 9,268 (3,247) in Schleswig-Holstein, 6,457 (1,977) in Lower Saxony and Hamburg, and 6,529 (1,473) in the Netherlands. This is an increase of almost 11% compared to 2011. The number of pups born in 2012 has also grown, but less significantly. During the peak in pupping in June, 7,267 pups were counted, which is 3% more than last year. “We are again excited about this year’s continued growth, a sign that our common efforts to protect the seals and their habitats are effective”, -  says Jens Enemark, head of the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat in Wilhelmshaven, which is responsible for the seal monitoring coordination. - “Since the inscription of the Dutch-German Wadden Sea into UNESCO World Heritage list in 2009, we have an obligation toward the world community to take great care of this unique nature area”.

The general increase is however unevenly distributed. It spans from 10% growth in Schleswig-Holstein to 37% in Lower Saxony and Hamburg, whereas the seal number in the Netherlands decreased by 12%. This clearly demonstrates the value of coordinated counts that provide a single most accurate estimate of the entire Wadden Sea seal population within a few days in August. Since seals are very mobile, migration within the Wadden Sea and into adjacent waters is seen as a potential reason for observed differences.

The Harbour seals are counted when the majority of the animals rest on sandbanks during low tide, while some are in the water. It is estimated that the total number of seals counted, corrected with those in the water, is around 38,500.

The number of Grey seals for the entire Wadden Sea has also increased. During the moult in March-April, 4,039 animals were counted, which is equivalent to a growth of 22% compared to 2011. Although pup numbers increased at the same time, it is expected that the growing population is partly based on immigration of the animals from UK waters.

Grey seals have a different life cycle than the Harbour seals. The pups are born in mid-winter with a characteristic white fur. Like the Harbour seals, the pups suckle for 3-4 weeks, after which the pups may stay ashore for up to a month. As they stay on sandbanks they can be washed off by storms or flee into the water caused by disturbance. If this happens within the first weeks of their life, a pup can lose contact with its mother. To see the detailed report on the seal population 2012, please go here.

Photo: (c) Klaus Janke

Workshop of the trilateral Salt Marsh and Dunes Expert Group

(c) Ulrike LampOn 17-19 October 2012, the trilateral Salt Marsh and Dunes Expert Group held a workshop on the Dutch island of Ameland. It was a continuation of a series of workshops, which are used for information exchange on research projects and management of salt marshes and dunes on the trilateral level. If possible it includes site visits to discuss prominent issues directly in the field. In addition to several very informative presentations on current projects and technical aspects, two excursions to local salt marsh areas were undertaken. The destinations were a large-scale long-term grazing trial in Noord-Friesland Buitendijks on the mainland and local salt marshes on Ameland, partly grazed by cattle and horses and under the influence of soil subsidence due to gas extraction. One of the major achievements of the workshop was to finalize the TMAP (Trilateral Monitoring and Assessment Program) typology of coastal vegetation in the Wadden Sea area, which is a complete overview of all TMAP salt marsh and dune types of the region. An additional article on the typology will be published in the next Newsletter.

Photo: (c) Ulrike Lamp

International Wadden Sea School workshop on Skallingen

 (c) Ulrik Gelderman Lützen The traditional annual workshop of the International Wadden Sea School was held on 26-28 November 2012. The 12th IWSS workshop brought together over 20 representatives from the entire Wadden Sea area to a very special place – the peninsula of Skallingen, where the Wadden Sea starts (or, as one may argue, ends). The Danish delegation that hosted this year’s workshop prepared a varied and abundant program for their colleagues from the Netherlands and Germany, which in addition to traditional information exchange and education activities planning also contained several excursions. The workshop participants had an opportunity to see the most “natural” development in the Wadden Sea landscapes at the estuary of the river Varde Å. The estuary gives an impression of how the Wadden Sea landscapes would look like if there were no dikes. The tours through salt marshes and dunes were guided by a special guest – Associate Professor Jesper Bartholdy (Institute of Geography, Copenhagen University), who is an acclaimed expert in landscape evolution.

The workshop addressed the interpretation of the landscape. The Wadden Sea landscape, which is geologically a very young area and is being formed to this day, is one of the three aspects of the Wadden Sea’s outstanding universal value (OUV). UNESCO defined that the Wadden Sea is unique in its variety, natural dynamics and landscape formation. The later constitutes a challenge for education experts in explaining and demonstrating the landscape properties to the general public not least to children. To overcome the challenge the experts exchanged information and suggestions with regard to the demonstration of the landscape formation.  (c) Ulrik Gelderman Lützen It was suggested to develop a database constituting all the activities related to this topic, so that colleagues from different Wadden Sea regions can use them to make the landscape formation topic apprehensible even for the smallest visitors of the Wadden Sea information centers.

The next workshop will take place in late autumn 2013 in Lower Saxony, to which, as a continuation of the Wadden Sea-Korea cooperation activities, the Korean eco guides and environmental education practitioners will be invited.

Photos: (c) Ulrik Gelderman Lützen

Korea-Wadden Sea cooperation: continued and intensified

Wadden Sea education experts visit Korean Wadden Sea

The cooperation between the Getbol (the Korean name for tidal flats) and the Trilateral Wadden Sea Cooperation has been especially rich in events in November.

First, the group of experts in the field of the environmental education was invited to a workshop organized by the Korean Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs (MLTM) and the City of Suncheon in cooperation with the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat. The workshop that took place in Suncheon City, which strives to become the Korean ecological capital, on 5-7 November 2012 was focused on two topics: development of Educational Programs and Exhibitions in Tidal Flat Centers in Korea.
(c) CWSS

Around 100 Getbol stakeholders and policy makers attended an opening ceremony and the following presentations on the first day of the workshop. The Wadden Sea delegation, consisting of Imke Zwoch (Lower Saxon Wadden Sea National Park Administration), Ulrik Gelderman Lützen (The Wadden Sea Interpreter Forum), Anja Szczesinski (WWF Germany, Wadden Sea Office) and Nataliya Drozdovych (CWSS) together with their Korean colleagues moderated the case study discussions and practical exercises, which were aimed at improvement of the Korean info center’s exhibition and education programs. The Wadden Sea cooperation model between various stakeholders and the holistic approach in the conservation of the Wadden Sea World Heritage Site serve as an inspiration for the Korean colleagues in the field of nature protection. Some of the recommendations, voiced by the Wadden Sea expert during the previous workshop in 2010 were already implemented – for example, similar to the Wadden Sea-wide model of the International Wadden Sea School, a network of five Korean tidal flat centers had been organized.

Based on the workshop result, a number of recommendations concerning the topic of the workshop as well as the future Getbol-Wadden Sea were transferred to the MLTM and will be presented to the Trilateral Wadden Sea Cooperation.

Korean delegation at the International Scientific Wadden Sea Symposium

The 13th International Scientific Wadden Sea Symposium (ISWSS), which was held in Leeuwarden, Netherlands, 21-23 November, was another opportunity to strengthen the cooperation with Korea which has similar important tidal flat areas as in the Wadden Sea.
In the framework of the 2009 Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), representatives from the Korean Ministry MLTM, the Korean Management agency KOEM and universities (Seoul, Anang, Mokpo) participated in the symposium and discussed further activities under the MoU in 2013 and 2014.
In a keynote lecture Prof. Chul-hwan Koh (left, photo: Z. Jager) from the Seoul National University introduced the Korean tidal flats, constituting 2,500 km2 of the coastal area adjacent to the Yellow Sea. He emphasized the importance of the cooperation between Korea and the Wadden Sea for the protection of Korean tidal flats which are under high pressure.

Download presentation of Prof. Koh

After the symposium, the Korean delegation visited the island of Ameland . The visit started with a trip at ebb tide through the Wadden Sea World Heritage on the Ministry’s inspection vessel “Krukel”, where the Korean guest got insight in the various tasks of the crew from checking regulations, monitoring birds and seals, sampling mussels and providing information for sailors. On the island, a trip to the dune and salt marsh areas in the eastern part provided insight in the morphological development of a typical barrier island. Info point on Ameland: From left: Ms. Namue Lee (KOEM), Dr. Myung-Beom Choi (Ministry MLTM), Dr. Inseo Hwang (KOEM), Jens Enemark (CWSS), Johan Krol (Nature Centre Ameland), Bernard Baerends (Ministry of Economic Affairs).

The group was welcomed by the Mayor of Ameland, Albert de Hoop (left). He informed about the current plans for a “green island” by photovoltaic installations and his involvement in the North-Sea-wide cooperation of municipalities to enhance shipping safety and the protection of the environment for local communities along the coast.

The visit ended at the “Natuurcentrum Ameland” in the new building established in 2009. Johan de Krol provided information about the cooperation with other museums on the island and the participation in scientific monitoring programs. The center also actively cooperates with other centers on the Dutch island, as well as with German and Danish centers in the framework of the International Wadden Sea School. In the context Ameland has also cooperated with Korean info centers by exchanging practical experiences and educational products at several joint workshops since 2009.

The visit of the Korean delegates has deepened the understanding of the similarities and differences of the Korean Getbol and the Wadden Sea. There is a mutual interest to cooperate in the protection and conservation of the tidal flats as a habitat which has world-wide importance in the context of migratory bird flyway. Both, the Wadden Sea Cooperation and Korea will take the opportunity at the next CBD-COP on Jeju, Korea, in 2014 to organize a joint symposium as a side event raising the profile of importance of tidal flats to the global community.

Wadden Sea meets the Wash

On 25-28 October, representatives from the Trilateral Wadden Sea Cooperation had the opportunity to visit the Wash estuary which is located between Lincolnshire and Norfolk on the East coast of England. The Wash captivates by its similarities to the Wadden Sea area regarding the landscape, ecosystem and species richness, but is also an area under influence of intense agriculture. Major intertidal banks of sand and mud and striking salt marsh areas conveyed the visitor’s impression of visiting a smaller issue of the Wadden Sea in Great Britain. The Wash is a Special Protection Area (SPA) under European Union legislation hosting a big seal colony, an impressive number of migratory and breeding bird species and extensive Sabellaria-reefs. The estuary is of importance for international nature conservation and a nationally significant landscape.(c) Stefanie Hedtkamp

Representatives from the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation of the Netherlands, the National Park Administration Lower Saxon Wadden Sea and the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat met corresponding British colleagues from the ministry to local fisheries, management and NGO’s for an intense information exchange and site visits to explore options to intensify the cooperation. The visit was organized by Natural England which is the English government’s advisor organization on the natural environment. A series of excursions led to salt marsh areas affected by wind farm cabling activities, re-naturation projects and local fishery industry. Based on a memorandum of intent between The Wash/North Norfolk Coast and the Wadden Sea from 1991, several activities around implementation of European directives, coastal protection and management and specific workshops have been conducted in the past and a future continuation of these common activities were discussed and are intended after this visit.

Photo: (c) Stefanie Hedtkamp

Annual Meeting of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Würzburg

World Heritage sites such as Venice, the Acropolis or the Wadden Sea attract tourists like a magnet. But the flow of visitors can also damage the sites. "Sustainable use of World Heritage sites in the economic, tourism and public context" was the theme of the annual meeting of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites Germany which took place on 24-26 October 2012, in Würzburg. Representatives of 37 German World Heritage sites and experts from government, conservation and tourism areas discussed the protection and conservation of the World Heritage property.

In the context of best-practice examples of sustainable use of World Heritage sites the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat together with the Tourismus-Agentur Schleswig-Holstein GmbH reported on the "Opportunities and prospects for conservation and tourism" in the Wadden Sea.

Presentations from the event are available at http://www.unesco-welterbe.de/de/der-verein/aktivitaeten

Presentation "Chancen und Perspektiven für Naturschutz und Tourismus" (in German).

Conference on partnership between nature conservation and tourism

The 10th conference of experts “Nature experience in touristic offers” (Fachtagung Naturerlebnis im touristischen Angebot) which was held on 15 November 2012 in Husum, has been hailed as a resounding success by its organizers (Nordsee Tourismus Service, Wadden Sea National Park, county administration Nord Friesland and Dithmarschen and University FH Westküste). The conference idea is based on the partnership between tourism and conservation, and it promotes the enormous potential of nature-based tourism. It is established as a key event for exchange between conservation and tourism stakeholders on the Schleswig-Holstein's North Sea coast, and this year welcomed over 160 participants from tourism, conservation and education areas.(c) Monika Hecker

Dr. Detlef Hansen, head of the National Park Administration of Schleswig-Holstein, showed with recent examples the most important developments in the National Park property. He addressed current challenges (dumping, oil exploration, aliens) as well as the World Heritage status as an important tool for nature protection and the role of tourism in this respect and explained: "The versatile and trustful cooperation with the National Park partners, conservation groups, tourism managers and many others pays off, because it promotes the acceptance of the National Park and World Heritage Site."

A report of the PROWAD study visit to the Jurassic Coast /GB was given, which showed the value to exchange best practice examples with other World Heritage Sites (direct link to download PDF). The presentation of the results demonstrated opportunities to transfer knowledge, working methods and good practice to their own experience and work fields.

Another excellent possibility to face the high potential of a partnership between tourism and nature conversation was given at “the marketplace”, a networking event which took place for the first time parallel to the conference itself. There was the opportunity to learn about sustainability, nature experiences and service quality related to practice examples and products.

The second part of the conference included a presentation of the Dutch-German-Danish Interreg IVB project PROWAD by Dr. Harald Marencic (CWSS). The joint, transnational communication and marketing activities for the World Heritage Site were presented. Furthermore an insight into the development of the cross-border strategy for sustainable tourism was provided, which will help to protect and preserve the Wadden Sea´s natural heritage.

The conference was instrumental for the aims of PROWAD to involve local and regional stakeholders in the transnational project. The next conference is planned on 14 November 2013.

Further information on the PROWAD project can be found at www.prowad.org

Photo: (c) Monika Hecker

Trilateral Meetings

12 December 2012
Task Group Shipping (TG-S)

16-17 January 2013
Trilateral Monitoring and Assessment Group (TMAG)

24-25 January 2013
Task Group Sustainable Tourism Strategy (TG-STS)

4-5 February 2013
Trilateral Seal Expert Group (TSEG)

5-6 February 2013
Task Group Climate (TG-C)

6-7 March 2013
Wadden Sea Board (WSB)

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