German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN)


Protected areas under international law

Wetlands of International Importance in Germany (Ramsar sites)

34 Ramsar sites serve to protect wetlands of international importance in Germany

The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance (Ramsar Convention) serves to maintain these important ecosystems. In doing so, it provides protection for the habitats of vast numbers of birds and fish. In Germany, 34 Ramsar sites have been designated, of which more than 80 percent are located in the intertidal zones and waters of the German North Sea and Baltic Sea.

By signing the Ramsar Convention in 1976, Germany agreed to promote wetland conservation. Since then, 34 German Ramsar sites have been designated. Located in 12 Bundesländer, they cover a combined area of 868,226 hectares. More than 80 percent of this total area comprises intertidal zones and waters in the German North Sea and Baltic Sea. Germany has three transnational Ramsar sites: the Bayerische Wildalm, a peatland complex between Germany and Austria, the Oberrhein (Upper Rhine) between Germany and France, and the Wadden Sea between Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands.

The Montreux Record lists Ramsar sites which need management improvements

The term Ramsar site does not automatically constitute a particular legal status; instead, it is a quality label that is awarded. The signatory states are obliged to develop management plans for the sites and to monitor their ecological status. If their status has deteriorated significantly or is expected to do so in the near future, the wetland sites are added to the Montreux Record of sites “where changes in ecological character have occurred, are occurring, or are likely to occur”. Once they are listed, measures must be developed to improve the sites’ ecological status. Due to measures related to coastal protection, the “Ostfriesisches Wattenmeer mit Dollart” Ramsar site has been listed in the Montreux Record since the mid-1990s.

German Ramsar sites provide habitats for critically endangered migratory birds and fish

All German Ramsar sites fulfil at least three of the nine eligibility criteria: being representative, rare or unique wetland types as well as being of international importance in terms of biodiversity conservation. In fact, numerous wetland-dependent migratory birds (such as Bewick’s swan, the Taiga bean goose and the long-tailed duck), whose distribution has declined significantly worldwide, winter at German Ramsar sites. The sites also provide important habitats for fish species that are critically endangered and threatened with extinction (such as Danube salmon, Ammersee whitefish and migratory fish species like salmon and allis shad). Almost the entire area of the German Ramsar sites is also part of the Natura 2000 protected area network.


More information

Ramsar-Convention (BfN-page)

Ramsar (Ramsar Convention Secretariat)