The Wadden Sea National Park

The Wadden Sea National Park is Danish nature at its best. You can see spectacular wildlife, and the significance of the area extends far beyond Denmark's borders. The national park protects the treasures of the Wadden Sea and makes it easier for you to enjoy them.

The Wadden Sea National Park is Denmark's largest national park. It extends from the Danish-German border to Blåvandshuk and covers 1,459km2, of which approximately 300km2 are on land. The national park consists of shallow waters, tidal flats, sand banks, barrier islands, tidal channels, sand dunes, marshland areas and salt meadows. It extends across four municipalities. Tønder, Esbjerg, Fanø and Varde. 

Why is the Wadden Sea a Danish national park?

The Wadden Sea is a unique salt marsh and tidal flat area of international significance. The area is characterised by an ever-changing natural environment due to tidal waters and waves transforming the landscape every single day. The tidal waters are home to an enormous production of worms, snails, mussels and crustaceans in the tidal flats which drain about two times a day. This is crucial for the millions of migratory birds that each spring and autumn descend on the Wadden Sea to eat and rest on their journey. The salt marsh is an important feeding ground, especially for geese and ducks. The Wadden Sea also plays an important role as a breeding ground for birds and seals, and it is a growing site for fish. Besides being the natural habitat of many animal species and plants, the Wadden Sea has an exciting cultural heritage of land reclamation and seawall construction. All of these treasures explain why the Wadden Sea was designated as a national park in 2010. 

The Wadden Sea is both a national park and a World Heritage Site.

In 2014, UNESCO designated about 80% of the Wadden Sea National Park as a World Heritage Site because of the area's outstanding universal value. This means that the Wadden Sea tidal flats stretching along the coasts of Denmark, Germany and Holland are a World Heritage Site.

The birth of the Wadden Sea National Park

Denmark's third national park

The Wadden Sea National Park was inaugurated on 16 October 2010 as Denmark's third national park.

In her reasons for the designation, the Minister for the Environment emphasised that the Wadden Sea is an entirely unique tidal marshland of global importance; a singular, dynamic landscape and ecosystem the importance of which reaches far beyond Danish borders. The area is important as a resting area for millions of migratory birds, as a breeding ground for birds and as a growing site for fish and marine mammals. It has a rich a cultural heritage with land reclamation and dyke construction.

The Wadden Sea National Park Plan 2013-2018, adopted in 2012, was the basis for further work with the park. A new plan was made in 2018, The Wadden Sea National Park Plan 2019-2024.

The national park year by year

  • 2003-2005: With support from the Danish Outdoor Council, seven pilot programmes and survey projects were completed to examine the possibilities of establishing national parks, e.g. at the Wadden Sea.
  • 2007: On 24 May, the Danish Parliament adopted the National Park Act.
  • 2008: On 17 January, the Minister for the Environment sealed an agreement with the parties behind the political settlement to designate four national parks, including the Wadden Sea National Park.
  • 2008: The Danish Nature Agency held five workshops, during which everyone invited were encouraged to come with proposals for activities in the future Wadden Sea National Park.
  • 2009: On 30 March, the municipalities of Varde, Esbjerg, Fanø and Tønder gave their consent to the preparation of national park proposals.
  • 2010: On 4 May, the proposal for a Wadden Sea National Park was sent for consultation and debate for the period until 9 September 2010.
  • 2010: On 16 October, the Wadden Sea National Park was inaugurated.
  • 2012: On 21 December, the Wadden Sea National Park Plan 2013-2018 was adopted.
  • 2014: UNESCO designated about 80% of the Wadden Sea National Park as a World Heritage Site

"Lots to experience. Lots to see. And countless tales of Danish history. The Wadden Sea is a treasure trove with riches that everyone in Denmark can take pleasure in and benefit from. It's a treasure trove that isn't made poorer by everyone taking a share.

We all need history. So that we can feel a sense of belonging. We also - sometimes - need to feel that there are forces which are greater than ourselves. We've got it all here. In the culture, traditions, history and nature of the Wadden Sea. This is a treasure trove which everyone visiting the national park can share in".

H.R.H Prince Joachim, in his speech at the opening of the Wadden Sea National Park.

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