Establishment of the largest Transboundary Ramsar Site - Wadden Sea

Establishment of the largest Transboundary Ramsar Site - Wadden Sea

17 December 2015
Denmark (Greenland), Germany, Netherlands

Located in the South Eastern part of the North Sea, the Wadden Sea is one of the largest unbroken systems of intertidal sand and mud flats in the world. Stretching over parts of Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands, this outstanding wetland ecosystem has been at the centre of the Trilateral Wadden Sea Cooperation since 1982 (coordinated by a Common Wadden Sea Secretariat).

On 5 February 2014, on the occasion of the 12th Trilateral Conference for the protection of the Wadden Sea, the Ministers responsible for the protection of the Wadden Sea of the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark adopted a joint Ministerial Declaration reaffirming their objective to protect and manage the Wadden Sea as a single ecological entity. Through this Ministerial Declaration a basis was established for the designation of the Wadden Sea Transboundary Ramsar Site.

Today, in line with this Ministerial Declaration, we are pleased to announce that the Governments of Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands have formally requested the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention, through a joint letter dated 1 December 2015, to list the Wadden Sea as a Transboundary Ramsar Site. Encompassing 13 Ramsar Sites at national level and over 1.2 million hectares, this designation emphasises the on-going cooperation around this shared wetland and recognises the willingness of these three governments to jointly manage this Site and accept this shared responsibility.

The designation includes the following Ramsar Sites:


The Wadden Sea area has been at the centre of the Trilateral Wadden Sea Cooperation since 1982.

The Wadden Sea Plan, adopted in 1997 and revised at the 11th Trilateral Conference for the Protection of the Wadden Sea in 2010, serves as the common policy and management plan for the protection and sustainable management of the Wadden Sea Area.

As a commitment to Article 5 of the Ramsar Convention and to the three pillars of the Convention, the Ramsar Secretariat heartily welcomes this Transboundary Ramsar Site declaration and looks forward to learning more about the successful integrated management of the Wadden Sea.


The Wadden Sea is protected and manged as one ecological entity and there is a consistent approach to tourism operations within the area.

Transboundary Ramsar Sites are those where “an ecologically coherent wetland extends across national borders and the Ramsar Site authorities on both or all sides of the border have formally agreed to collaborate in its management, and have notified the Secretariat of this intent" (Ramsar Manual). The Transboundary Ramsar Sites designation is a cooperative management arrangement and not a distinct legal status for the Ramsar Sites involved.

This designation brings up the number of Transboundary Ramsar Sites to a total of 17.