The Wadden Sea is, with regard to light pollution, one of the darkest places in the Netherlands. On a clear night, seventy times more stars can be seen from Friesland than in the Randstad. Darkness is the landscape’s distinctive characteristic; in terms of nature, but also relating to tourism. Darkness contributes to a unique experience of nature. In addition, artificial light disturbs the natural behaviour of animals and affects human sleep cycles.
‘Toward a Rich Wadden Sea’ (Programma naar een Rijke Waddenzee), a municipal initiative that aims to make the Wadden Sea stronger and more resilient against people and nature, is working together with the Feel the Night Foundation to maintain the Wadden area’s darkness. The joint efforts have resulted in 44 parties signing a declaration and the development of one unifying programme dedicated to increasing darkness as a characteristic of the World Heritage Wadden Sea.
There are several on-going initiatives: De Boschplaat on Terschelling and the National Park Lauwersmeer have already been labelled ‘Dark Sky Park’. Municipalities are adopting lighting options that are less disruptive. And within a European context experiences are shared to increase the darkness at night through the so-called Interreg project Night Light.
Image: Hans Jellema