Extensive wetland area in the Netherlands

03/02/2009 15:00

A relatively large area in the Netherlands is covered with water. There are 43 wetland areas covering 817 thousand ha. Germany is the only country in the European Union with a more extensive wetland area.

Area of wetlands in the EU countries

Area of wetlands in the EU countries

World Wetlands Day

Today, 2 February, is World Wetlands Day. On this date in 1971, the Convention on Wetlands was signed in the Iranian city of Ramsar. In this convention, governments have committed themselves to protect and conserve their wetlands.

Wetlands are partially or entirely covered with water, either permanently of seasonally. Wetlands have international importance as habitat for numerous bird species. Wetlands include swamps, lakes, river deltas and coastal strips. Currently, 158 countries have joined the treaty, comprising 1,828 wetland sites with a total area of 169 million ha.

Water birds in wetlands

Wetlands are of vital importance to water birds. A major part of West European water bird species hibernate or breed in the Netherlands. Since 1975, the number of water birds – in particular geese and swans – has risen tremendously in the Netherlands, partly because of a hunting ban. The number of stilt-walkers, ducks, and other water birds has more than doubled over the past three decades. 

Water birds in wetlands

Water birds in wetlands

Lodewijk van Duuren