UNESCO could strip Wadden Sea of its heritage status because of mining
The Wadden Sea is in danger of losing its UNESCO World Heritage status if the Netherlands continues to extract salt and gas in the region. UNESCO expressed its concerns about salt production under the Wadden Sea, and the proposal to drill for gas near Ternaard.
The concerns were released in a critical report drawn up with IUCN, the international partnership for nature conservation. Outgoing nature minister Christianne van der Wal sent part of the report to the Tweede Kamer on Tuesday evening.
UNESCO wants the gas extraction project at Ternaard to be halted. The Netherlands, Germany and Denmark were told they need to also have a plan in place for the conservation of the Wadden Sea by February 1 at the latest.
Mining can cause the soil under the Wadden Sea to subside. If sea levels rise in addition to the sinking seabed, the Wadden Sea may lose its unique characteristics, specifically how the area dries out at low tide, allowing seabirds to gather food on the mud flats. Fish and other sea creatures are also affected by noise due to the underwater activities.
Van der Wal will not provide a substantive response until later. UNESCO must first make a final decision on the recommendations contained in the report. This will take place from September 10 to 25 at a conference in the Saudi capital of Riyadh.
The Netherlands has twelve World Heritage Sites, including both cultural and nature locations. All countries affiliated with UNESCO have committed themselves to preserving the heritage.
Reporting by ANP