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, Netherlands, bringing together over 200 scientists, policy-makers, managers and other stakeholders from the entire Wadden Sea region, Korea and Australia.

Special guests of the symposium on the first row: Karsten Reise, Chul-hwan Koh, Jens Enemark, Peter Ilsøe, Jaap Verhulst, Jouke van Dijk and Hessel Speelman. Foto: Zwanette Jager

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 tree-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 2500 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 next 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 presentations of the Symposium will be available for download next week at the Wadden Academy website.http://(

For more information please contact:
Klaas Deen                     
Executive secretary of the Waddenacademie-knaw
Ruiterskwartier 121a
8911 BS  Leeuwarden
tel: +31 (0)58-2339031
mob: 06-14401374