UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Wadden Sea of Lower Saxony

Extreme Habitat for Millions of Living Creatures

The Wadden Sea is one of the last large natural landscapes in Germany. The natural landscape extends from the Netherlands across the German North Sea coast to Denmark. Next to the mountain region of the Alps, the Wadden Sea on the North Sea coast is the last extensive wilderness in Europe.

With only one inhabitant, the Wadden Sea of Lower Saxony is the least populated biosphere reserve in Germany. The tidal dynamics of the Wadden Sea create extreme living conditions changing twice a day and diverse habitats: permanently water-bearing channels, salt marshes of the dike foreland, various islands. There are only a few very specialized species living here. The region offers an important breeding ground for fish, provides habitats for seals, as well as stopover and feeding grounds for many millions of birds. In the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, it represents the habitats of salt marshes, sand dunes, dune islands, and mud flats.

In turn, the cultural landscape behind the dikes has been shaped by humans for centuries. Its inclusion as a transition area of the biosphere reserve has been discussed for years. In order to establish a sufficiently large transition area, the state government invites the coastal communities to voluntarily join.

Today, the use of agricultural land is oriented towards near-natural agriculture. On 66 percent of the salt marshes in the core and buffer zone, use was abandoned and compensation payments made to farmers. For more than 150 years, the Wadden Sea has also been a recreational area.

Contributions to sustainable development

Numerous projects promote the sustainable development of the coast and the cultural landscape. For example, the "Partner Initiative" promotes sustainable tourism. Through a network of more than 60 partners from nature conservation, tourism, and industry, nature conservation and the economic development will be balanced in better ways.

The project "storing instead of pumping" identifies local changes due to climate change in the coastal region and their consequences for regional water management, developing alternative options for action.

International Partnerships

Using the double designation as a World Heritage site and biosphere reserve, the National Park Authority cooperates with protected areas, especially in West Africa. These areas are closely linked to the Wadden Sea, as the migratory birds of the Wadden Sea often spend the winter in these Western African areas. Examples of this cooperation with the title "Wadden Sea Flyway Initiative" are the Banc d'Arguin World Heritage Site in Mauritania, the planned Bijagós World Heritage Site in Guinea-Bissau or a planned biosphere reserve in Gambia. The Wadden Sea of Lower Saxony is also involved in the global network of island and coastal biosphere reserves.


  • Year of designation: 1992
  • State/Province: Lower Saxony
  • Size: 2,400 km² (1,300 km² core area and 1,080 km² buffer zone)
  • Represented landscape: Wadden Sea, islands, and marshes
  • Website: www.nationalpark-wattenmeer.de/nds