Wadden Sea

Country/territory: Netherlands

IBA Criteria met: A1, A4i, A4iii, B1i, B2, B3, C1, C2, C3, C4, C6 (2016)
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 271,006 ha

Vogelbescherming Nederland
Most recent IBA monitoring assessment
Year of assessment Threat score (pressure) Condition score (state) Action score (response)
2018 high not assessed medium
For more information about IBA monitoring please click here

Site description
Together with the Danish and German sections, the Wadden Sea (Waddenzee) is the largest intertidal area in Europe. Important habitats of the ecosystem include mudflats, sandflats, saltmarshes, shallowly submerged sandbanks, and estuaries. The Dutch section is bounded by the Waddeneilanden and the mainland. It was separated from Lake IJsselmeer (site 034) in 1932 and from the Lauwerszee (015) in 1969. The Wadden Sea IBA includes the main part of the intertidal system but the main isles (005, 009), the bays (013, 017) and the saltmarshes/forelands (002-004, 006-008, 010-014, 016) have been considered as separate sites. The area covered by the Wadden Sea Memorandum (national policy paper), of which the boundary is determined by the mean of the annual maximum high-water mark, overlaps with these sites and has a total area of 272,100 ha. Human activities include extraction of natural gas and of sand, and shellfish fisheries.

Key biodiversity
The Wadden Sea is a major breeding, staging, wintering, feeding and moulting area for huge numbers of many duck, goose, wader, gull and tern species. No numbers are given for breeding birds as most nest in immediately adjacent IBAs. This complex site was not taken into account for the application of C6 criterion (`five most important sites in NUTS region'), because of its close proximity to adjacent sites (002-014, 016-017).

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Wadden Sea. Downloaded from on 29/11/2021.