Weaving a Coastal Web of Life

Credit: WWF/ M. LindhardA concerted effort has been undertaken by three WWF national organisations in order to protect the shallow tidal Wadden Sea which covers an area of 10.000 km2 along the Dutch, German and Danish coast. The ecologically rich estuaries, salt marshes, tidal mud flats, sand banks and dune islands make the Wadden Sea a key stepping stone for 10-12 million migratory waterbirds annually as well as an important fish and seal nursery. WWF-Germany has successfully promoted national parks as tools for the protection of the Wadden Sea and lobbied the Ministerial Wadden Sea Conferences to set up a Trilateral Management Plan. However, many gaps in implementation have been identified and coastal engineering, oil exploration, military activities, fisheries, tourism and shipping activities as well as the pollution load from rivers and the North Sea still conflict with conservation needs. The Wadden Sea illustrates the importance of integrating marine protected areas into the management of entire coastal and adjacent offshore regions.