Wadden monitoring in the spotlight in Tønder
The Wadden Sea is a unique natural intertidal ecosystem of global importance, stretching from Den Helder in The Netherlands, past the rivers and estuaries in Germany to Esbjerg in Denmark. The Wadden Sea region not only harbours a suite of distinctive plants and animals, but is also home to humans, from tourists to people living and working in the area. Its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) was acknowledged by UNESCO, resulting in the inscription of the Dutch-German Wadden Sea on the World Heritage List in 2009. Extension with the Danish part is anticipated for 2014. The World Heritage status underlines that the entire Wadden Sea is a single ecological entity which must be managed in a harmonised way, protecting its completeness and intactness. The inscription on the World Heritage List also offers new opportunities for regional sustainable development whilst safeguarding its OUV for the benefits of present and future generations.
Long-term monitoring efforts are essential to evaluate the effectiveness of management strategies to achieve these goals. Information on the status and trends of well-chosen ecological, socio-economic and cultural parameters of the Wadden Sea region enables the identification of the progress made as the result of these actions compared to natural changes. The Trilateral Monitoring and Assessment Programme (TMAP) and other long-term monitoring programmes such as national meteorological observations and demographic surveys, provide us with this opportunity.
Such programmes revealed, for example, that winters are getting milder, that during storm surges water levels may reach up to almost five meters above mean sea level, that the sheltered basins in the southern Wadden Sea are the hotspots for mussel beds and that the trend in the number of oystercatchers is very different from that of curlews. At the same time, monitoring shows that the change in numbers of inhabitants in Wadden Sea municipalities bordering the Wadden Sea greatly varies between regions, and that labour demand in the Wadden Sea area is lagging behind compared to the rest of Denmark, Germany and The Netherlands.
This booklet visualizes a selection of recent monitoring results of the entire trilateral Wadden Sea to llustrate that continued, harmonised and effective trilateral monitoring and assessment programmes, based on sound scientific evidence, are necessary to expand our knowledge on the on-going and ever-changing interactions between ecological and socio-economic drivers within this region. Present and future information and insights from monitoring are not only essential for the protection of natural values and velihoods of the Wadden Sea, but also provide lessons of wider scientific importance for wetlands of international value and for coastal management.
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