To be placed on the list of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites, a region must be very special. It must possess unique nature values and be intact, and its protection must be guaranteed. The Wadden Sea has been deemed to be globally unique in at least three criteria for outstanding universal value!

Wadden Sea Landscape - young and unique

The wadden region is relatively young. It only formed during the post-glacial period, around 7000 years ago. Although even now sandbanks and dunes are still forming and eroding in a rapid tempo. The dynamics of the area are unique. You still find landscapes in all phases of development. Even today with your own eyes, you can see and experience how landscapes were created in the glacial period.

Wadden Sea Diversity - natural forces and dynamics prevail

The Wadden Sea has its own exceptional manner of showing how nature, plants and animals continually adapt to the daily changeable circumstances on the flats. Where fresh river water mixes with salty seawater and processes such as tides, wind and deposition of sand and mud still occur, you find ingeniously adapted plants and animals. Thanks to its many faces, the Wadden Sea offers a tremendous variety of plants and animals a place to grow, live, breed, nurse, grow up, moult or rest.

Wadden Sea Wildlife - unique in its variety

The wealth of life in the Wadden Sea is phenomenal. Not only do you find lots of permanent residents, there are also lots of visitors. Every year, at least 10 to 12 million migrating birds make use of the wadden region. And did you know that here around 10,000 different plants and animals can be found living on land or in water? Such an enormous variety as found in the Wadden Sea exists nowhere else in the world!

People

Knowing and learning

The Wadden Sea World Heritage is a Natural Heritage Site. It is true that people have inhabited the wadden region for thousands of years and thereby contributed to the formation of the region. Salt marshes were turned into polders to create grassland and farmland and dikes were built to protect the land. People still make use of the region. The sea fulfills many purposes, such as transporting goods and fishing fish, shrimp and mussel seed. Ferry boats travel back and forth between the islands and mainland, carrying residents and tourists. People also use the area for enjoyment and relaxation. The emerged banks are hiked and people sail in the deeper channels.

The Wadden Sea has a long cultural history which is important for the region. But because of its unique nature values, for which its preservation is considered of global importance, the Wadden Sea has been declared a natural heritage.

All these unique features of the Wadden Sea and the large extraordinary variety of plants and animals in the region are of great importance to all of us. You can experience its tranquility and vastness and encounter how unique the tidal dynamics are at this scale. There are few other areas in the world where it is possible to submerge yourself into the great forces of nature which change the area daily.

This intense experience, for residents as well as visitors, is part of the special value this wetland possesses. In addition, there is no sea in the world where so much research has been performed over so long a period and where so much is known. This wealth of information makes the Wadden Sea unusually valuable for education and science. Many studies are still in progress. This is the only place where is it possible to study bird migration from Africa on such a large scale. And what scientists are able to do is possible for everyone! The Wadden Sea is an excellent place for all to learn and experience firsthand more about the sea and its surroundings.