Wadden Region

The Wadden Region is one of the most remarkable parts of the Netherlands. The national Delta Programme sets out ambitions and measures aimed at preserving the unique values of the Wadden Region for the future. A Preferential Strategy has been drawn up for this area.

The entire Wadden Sea, from Den Helder to Esbjerg, has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It ranks among the world’s most important wetlands and has unique natural values. The area is also of major importance in terms of flood risk management. The ebb-tide deltas, the Wadden islands, the flats and the salt marshes together protect the northern coast of the Netherlands.


The long intertidal zone in the shallow Wadden Sea (mudflats, salt marshes, and channels) constitutes a buffer against the high waves of the North Sea. Without this buffer, the flood defences along the mainland and island shores would have to be stronger and higher. The intertidal zone of the Wadden Sea requires additional sand in order to adapt to the rising sea level. If the rise in sea level accelerates, more sand will be needed, and a situation may arise in which the intertidal zone can no longer keep pace with the rising sea level, which will reduce its buffering effect. 

Currently, sections of the dykes along the Wadden Sea mainland coast, along the Eems-Dollard estuary, and along the islands fail to fully meet the statutory standards. These flood defences are being improved. Sea level rise may necessitate further improvements in the future.  

Furthermore, some sections of the flood defences need to provide a higher level of protection, in particular with a view to the key role that the province of Groningen plays in gas extraction and (inter)national gas transport. A final important issue is rendering the dykes in Groningen earthquake-proof. 

Preferential Strategy for the Wadden Region

A Preferential Strategy has been drawn up to preserve the unique values of the Wadden Region. The point of departure in this strategy is to opt for measures that are as natural as possible.

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