One of Denmark’s most beloved nature areas, Vadehavet (Wadden Sea), is under heavy duress due to the inconsiderate behaviour of tourists who visit the vulnerable site.
The UNESCO World Heritage site is hampered by visitors stomping around its vulnerable dunes, leaving dedicated paths and ignoring driving regulations, as well as letting their dogs barrel into sensitive habitats for migrating birds.
“I become furious inside. I think most people do it through ignorance, but some people know exactly what they are doing,” Hans Tonnesen, a nature guide with Tønder Municipality, told DR Nyheder.
“We’ve experienced people digging up rare plants – and for no good reason as they can’t thrive anywhere else.”
The alarm bells are also sounding for Varde Municipality, the Danish Ornithological Society, the Danish Society for Nature Conservation and the Wadden Sea Centre.
One reason for the dilemma is a recent influx of tourists. Over the past decade, the number of overnight stays on the west coast of Denmark has shot up by a million.
The Danish part of the Wadden Sea, the largest nature reserve in Denmark, is located in western Jutland and has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2009. The vast area stretches into Germany and the Netherlands.