Dear reader, the Common Wadden Sea secretariat sincerely hopes that you will enjoy the reading of the Wadden Sea Newsletter in the new design!


Taken by surprise: Arctic conditions in the Wadden Sea increase mortality of wintering waterbirds and force most birds to escape further south

Arctic weather conditions over the last two weeks led to an almost completely frozen Wadden Sea, which may have severe effects on wintering waterbirds staying during this cold spell, as experts of the joint Dutch-German-Danish monitoring group of migratory birds (JMMB) expect. Waterbirds suffer from bad food availability in combination with the very cold temperatures, which some will not survive. However, most birds managed to escape quickly after the cold spell started further southwest to West-European coasts to reach milder weather conditions.

In contrast to the previous years this winter started very mildly and without frost. Due to that fact large numbers of waterbirds like Barnacle Geese, Shelducks, Wigeons, Oystercatchers, Grey Plovers, Red Knots, Dunlins, Curlews and even Golden Plovers and Lapwings remained in the Wadden Sea and tried to overwinter. In addition, the recent storms pushed an unusually large number of Kittiwakes and Little Gulls to the Wadden Sea coast and some individuals of the very rare gulls like Glaucous and Iceland Gulls were observed.

This winter’s late sudden severe cold caught the birds by surprise. The cold spell started on 26th January and within a few days the entire Wadden Sea from Denmark to the Netherlands was frozen. All higher tidal flats are covered now by a thick layer of ice and many birds concentrate on temporarily ice-free lower tidal mudflats, where they can feed. This caused the escape of the most birds from the Wadden Sea. Especially Geese and Wigeons, the vegetarians, flew to milder regions as well as shorebirds, whose numbers dropped rapidly. Thousands of Dark-bellied Brent Geese arrived in the northern Wadden Sea in late January, but on arrival the low temperatures, ice and snow cover forced them to fly back within a few days.

These extreme temperatures pose a danger for the birds. After the coldest night from 6th to 7th February with temperatures below minus 15°C more than 90 dead shorebirds were found by volunteers of the “Schutzstation Wattenmeer” at the coast of Schleswig-Holstein, among them 70 Oystercatchers. This shows that quite a number of birds did not find enough food and did not have any fat reserves left and, therefore, froze to death. Normally, birds with good body conditions and fat reserves should survive minus 15°C easily as well as arctic periods of several weeks.

If the cold spell continues, it is expected that more winter mortality among birds may occur. Especially for Oystercatcher this would be another negative impact on its population level, which dropped by almost 50% over the last 20 years. This species has suffered limited food stocks in large parts of the Wadden Sea as a result of shellfish fisheries in the Dutch Wadden Sea. Moreover, breeding success was very poor in the past years, as revealed by the new Trilateral Monitoring and Assessment Program on breeding success.

Foto: Tidal flats covered with ice © G. Reichert/ NPV Niedersächsisches Wattenmeer

Wadden Sea World Heritage Marketing and Communication Workshop

The Trilateral Stakeholder Workshop on Communication and Marketing of the Wadden Sea World Heritage, that took place in Hamburg on January, 26th, succeeded to bring together over 35 stakeholders with extensive experience in nature conservation and tourism from all the Wadden Sea regions.

The workshop aimed to inform the stakeholders about the progress in implementing the current joint communication and marketing program 2010-2013, that provides a framework for communication, marketing and education activities for the entire Wadden Sea World Heritage area. The workshop was further to identify the main issues of future cooperation as input to the next Trilateral Governmental Conference. The representatives of nature conservation agencies, national parks, marketing and tourism organizations, NGOs and governmental bodies were invited to share their numerous and diverse activities and experiences in communication and promotion of the Wadden Sea Heritage Site in their respective regions.

The workshop started with an inspiring presentation “World Heritage – Is there an opportunity for economic gain?” by James Rebanks, Rebanks Consulting Ltd (UK). He had analyzed over 800 World Heritage sites and presented convincing case studies from various areas where the World Heritage Status became a place-making catalyst of the economic growth in the region. Further presentation by the CWSS, the German national parks, the Province of Fryslân and the marketing organizations of Schleswig-Holstein, Lower Saxony and Fryslân, informed the participants about joint World Heritage activities as well as regional activities on the World Heritage topic.

In the interactive part of the Workshop, three workgroups focused on nature conservation, communication and environmental education and sustainable tourism. The result of the group discussion served as a valuable input for the optimization of the current work program and the future development of the joint World Heritage communication and marketing in various parts of the Wadden Sea.

The workshop defined more precisely opportunities of future communication and marketing and challenges derived from the Wadden Sea World Heritage designation, it helped to set priorities for the period until 2013. It also provided indications for a broader stakeholder involvement and for a strategic long-term framework beyond 2013, covering nature conservation and science, regional development, awareness and identity, as well as sustainable tourism.

The workshop was organized as a part of the PROWAD Protect and Prosper Project. More information about the Interreg IVB project PROWAD can be obtained at: www.prowad.org

New catalogue of World Heritage products

Since the inscription of the Wadden Sea into the World Heritage list, a lot of World Heritage branded products have been and are currently produced. The first version of the catalogue of all products can now be found here: http://www.waddensea-worldheritage.org/sites/default/files/downloads/cat...

This catalogue is aimed to inform marketing organizations, municipalities, information centers, NGOs and other organizations - interested in promoting the Wadden Sea - about the Wadden Sea World Heritage products and promotion materials.

PROWAD – WWF workshop on sustainable tourism

On 13.01.2012, the WWF organized a PROWAD workshop in Hamburg with 14 representatives from Wadden Sea nature NGOs and German national parks to discuss the development of a strategy for sustainable tourism in the Wadden Sea from a perspective of nature conservation. In preparation of the workshop, a questionnaire was distributed to nature conservationists in the Dutch, German and Danish Wadden Sea to gather their opinion on possible impacts of tourism activities in their specific area. In total, 43 of 77 areas were covered with this survey. Most of the interviewed persons regarded disturbances from water sports, air traffic, as well as walkers and unleashed dogs in protected areas as the main impact affecting marine mammals as well as breeding and migratory birds. The workshop underlined that existing and future touristic activities in the Wadden Sea have to comply with the conservation targets and the existing protection regime. A comprehensive, up-to-date and adequate visitor information and management system has to ensure a coherent, understandable and acceptable communication of the various regulations. The workshop also discussed ideas for the action plan which will be part of the Wadden-Sea-wide strategy for sustainable tourism, such as a feasibility study on climate-friendly travelling, guides or wardens for sustainable nature experiences in selected regions and toolkits for sustainable class trips to Wadden Sea destinations.
More information about the Interreg IVB project PROWAD can be found at: www.prowad.org

PROWAD upcoming meetings

13 February 2012, Leeuwarden, the Netherlands

21 March 2012, Wilhelmshaven, Lower Saxony

22 March 2012, Husum, Schleswig-Holstein

April 2012, Denmark (under preparation)

Information about PROWAD, events and updates at www.prowad.org

Interreg IVB North Sea Region Program: Information event of the German Federation and the North German States

Kiel, 24 January 2012. Interreg programs, financed through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), aim at stimulating transnational cooperation in the EU. The Interreg IVB North Sea Region Program focuses on encouraging and supporting transnational cooperation in the North Sea Region.

A German information event about the Interreg IVB North Sea Region Program took place in Kiel on 24 January. The meeting was informed about the ongoing projects, the still available financial resources and about the probably last call, for which applications can be submitted until 5 March 2012.

The new Interreg Program in the period 2014 – 2020 will in general get a new orientation. This means, the program will emphasize the EU 2020 strategy, focusing on a few themes and investigations, and is expected to be more result-orientated, amongst others, by considering more macro-regional strategies.

The Interreg Program will entail 11 themes, which can be clustered to innovation, climate change and adaption, and social developments (accessibility, labor market, poverty, education). The North Sea Program will be requested to focus on 4 of the 11 themes so that the range is very much limited also with regard to pilot projects and integration of transnational programs.

The themes were discussed in 4 workshops, which were innovation, environment, accessibility and sustainable urban/regional development. The presentations and results of the event are available on the German Interreg website www.interreg.de.

On this website, the German Steering Committee will also publish all further discussion results leading up to the final program decisions. Currently it is aimed for opening the first call under the new program in summer 2014.

Job opportunity

The deadline for application as project manager at the CWSS has been extended to 29.02.2012. The job covers technical administration of various projects including technical support of workshops and project meetings with experience in bookkeeping and administration of EU projects. More information (in German) at


The EcoQO on mercury and organohalogens in coastal bird eggs: report on the pilot study 2008 – 2010.

Dittmann TD, Becker PH, Bakker J, Bignert A, Nyberg E, Pereira MG, Pijanowska U, Shore R, Stienen EWM, Toft GO & Marencic H (2011).  (INBO.R.2011.43). Research Institute for Nature and Forest, Brussel

Coastal areas of the North Sea hold important breeding populations of marine birds but are also under pressure from pollution with environmental chemicals. Due to biomagnification effects through the food chain, the bird egg is an ideal matrix to get a consistent and reliable picture of the pollutant level of the marine environment over time and space.
This report gives, for the first time, a North-Sea-wide overview about the spatial patterns of mercury and organochlorine pollution in coastal bird eggs, presenting data from Oystercatcher, Common Tern and Arctic Tern in the period 2008-2010.

It is shown how the recently defined OSPAR Ecological Quality Objectives (EcoQOs) for organochlorines in coastal bird eggs have been fulfilled in the different parts of the North Sea. This report aims to provide input for the further development of EcoQOs in the North Sea area and for their potential role in the implementation of the EU Marine Strategy Directive.

A large part of the work was carried out in the framework of the long established Trilateral Monitoring and Assessment Program (TMAP) of the Trilateral Wadden Sea Cooperation, which provided resources and data for the Wadden Sea sites. A cooperation with institutes in Belgium, Norway, Sweden and the UK made it possible to extend the monitoring of pollutants from the Wadden Sea to the entire North Sea.

The report can be downloaded as PDF (3 MB) at:


Wissen Wattenmeer

Wachholtz Vertrag
Von Ute Wilhelmsen und Martin Stock
21x25 cm, 144 pages
ISBN 978-3-529-05350-4
€ 24,80

The Dutch-German Wadden Sea, was inscribed into World Heritage list –the first large landscape in Germany. But what exactly makes this area so special that the UNESCO has awarded it with such a prestigious title? The Wadden Sea expert Martin Stock and Ute Wilhelmsen demonstrate profound understanding of the unique character of the Wadden Sea in their new book. The authors describe the history of the development of the coastal landscape and the prevailing nature forces as well as the variety of species and current challenges posed by climate change and other human influences. Impressive photos complement the informative text and graphics. Everything worth knowing about the fascinating landscape of the Wadden Sea for nature lovers and ambitious hobby-scientists.


Watt für Entdecker

Wachholtz Verlag, 22,5 x 22,5 cm, 108 pages
ISBN 978‐3‐529‐05351‐1
€ 14,80
Von Ute Wilhelmsen und Susanne Wild
Fotos von Martin Stock von Dirk Schories

For small beach detectives and mud researchers: this is how to learn about the most exciting animals in the Wadden Sea. Who makes small piles on tidal flats? And why? Who is the fastest worm in the mud? Why crabs are not really crabs? And to whom belong the mini-surfboards on the beach? All answers for small researchers from 6 years and older can be found in this book, which offers a virtual discovery tour to the Wadden Sea World Heritage and presents its most important and exciting animals and plants.

Trilateral Meetings

28 – 29 February 2012
Joint Monitoring Groups Breeding and Migratory Birds (JMBB/JMMB)

1 March 2012
Task Group Climate (TG-C)

14 – 15 March 2012
Wadden Sea Board (WSB-5)

29 March 2012
Task Group Shipping (TG-S)

9-10 July 2012
Task Group Sustainable Tourism Strategy (TG-STS)

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