Hamburg Wadden Sea National Park
The Hamburg Wadden Sea National Park may be the smallest of the three Wadden Sea Parks on the west coast, but it is the 'wildest'.
- UNESCO Biosphere Reserve: since 1992
- World Heritage Site: since 2011
- Location: The Hamburg Wadden Sea National Park encompasses the Wadden Sea west of the mouth of the Elbe. It is embedded in the Lower Saxony Wadden Sea National Park, the open sea and the Elbe fairway. In the south, it borders the coast of Lower Saxony near Cuxhaven. The islands of Neuwerk, Scharhörn and Nigehörn also belong to the national park.
- Area: 1990: 117.5 km², after the 2001 expansion: 137.5 km².
- Area distribution (mapping 2016):
Area share Tidal flats 70,0 % open sea 26,6 % Islands 3,4 %
- Formation: After the Ice Age, the sea level rose sharply due to the melting of the glacial ice and formed the coastal landscape over the past 8,000 years. Since then, currents in the North Sea have been drifting large masses of sand into the area of the Hamburg Wadden Sea and, with sedimentation and erosion, have been shaping the form of tidal channels, mudflats, flats and islands to this day.
- Habitats: mudflats, tidal flats, marine areas, sandbanks, islands, salt marshes, dunes, grassland and dykes.
- Protection zones: there are 2 different ones. At over 90%, Zone I in the Hamburg Wadden Sea is particularly large. Here, all natural processes should take place undisturbed by humans. Therefore, entry here is only permitted with an exceptional permit or a guided tour. The two small islands Nigehörn and Scharhörn and the Neuwerker Ostvorland are also located in this Zone I. Zone II enables nature-compatible uses in the sense of sustainable development. It includes the island of Neuwerk with its inland groden (diked land) and northern foreland as well as an area off the coast of Lower Saxony. Tourism, agriculture and transport to and from Neuwerk take place in this zone.
- Residents in the National Park: around 30 people year-round on Neuwerk
- Plants: Of the approx. 1,000 plant species of the Wadden Sea, 475 fern and flowering plant species have been identified here alone – 431 of which currently occur
- Birds: 340 species have been observed so far, 81 species breed here
- Fish: So far 34 species have been recorded. The Wadden Sea is the nursery for the plaice, herring and sole of the North Sea.
- Marine mammals: seals, grey seals, harbour porpoises
- National Park region: The only town in the vicinity is Cuxhaven with 48,000 inhabitants. Hamburg, to which the national park belongs, is about 110 km away as the crow flies.
- National Park Partners: This is the name given to businesses and associations that protect the nature of the National Parks and make it accessible to guests. Sie verpflichten sich, nach strengen Umweltregeln zu arbeiten und leisten so ihren Beitrag zum Erhalt des Wattenmeeres. The partner programme for the Hamburg Wadden Sea is currently being set up in cooperation with the partner programme of the Lower Saxony Wadden Sea National Park. Future national park partners receive plaques or signs with the same name printed on them.
- Guests: around 120,000 per year, of which the vast majority are day tourists
- Service: The ranger and the Jordsand Association inform guests and locals and take care of the protection regulations in the national park. The information centre (‘National Park House‘) is located on Neuwerk Island. Opening hours are based on ferry and tidal flat car timetables, and admission is free. There are information boards and adventure trail stations at many places on Neuwerk. During the season from March/April to the end of October there is an extensive programme of events. A highlight are the annual goose weeks in spring, when up to 20,000 brent geese and white-fronted geese stop over on Neuwerk.
- Responsibilities: The National Park belongs to the Hamburg-Wilhelmsburg Authority for the Environment, Climate, Energy and Agriculture. The National Park Administration is responsible for the protection of nature, environmental observation and research as well as environmental education and promotion of the experience of nature in the National Park.