Oris introduces a watch created with the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat and its mission to conserve the Wadden Sea, the world’s largest tidal system and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Nature knows no borders
Oris’s Change for the Better projects have covered the globe. Now the focus falls on the Wadden Sea, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Like nature, Oris’s Change for the Better campaign is unlimited by treaties or border controls. It’s also holistic. Change for the Better is about conserving our planet, just as it’s about improving people’s lives.
Over the past decade, we’ve worked with non-profit environmental organisations and clean-up movements all over the world. With the support of our retailers, press and end consumers, partnerships such as those we’ve established with Coral Restoration Foundation and Whale and Dolphin Conservation have brought real change to the world’s oceans.
Change for the Better also covers social projects. We work with Movember, the Carl Brashear Foundation and most recently we’ve begun a partnership with the Roberto Clemente Foundation. Each works to change lives, and has a proven track record doing so.
Our latest project is with the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat (CWSS), a tri-lateral organisation covering Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands that works to conserve and protect the Wadden Sea, the world’s largest unbroken tidal flat system. In 2009, UNESCO awarded it World Heritage Site status to reflect its importance to global biodiversity. The need to take responsibility for our world has never been greater. The Covid-19 pandemic has proved our habits must change to protect our world for future generations.
At Oris, we take this responsibility extremely seriously, which is why we’re on a mission to bring Change for Better. As well as entering into partnerships with conservation agencies and supporting projects designed to clean
up the world’s water sources, we’re also on a sustainability drive here in Hölstein.
Our aim this year is to become climate neutral. This means taking action to recycle more, reduce emissions, improve our manufacturing facilities and much more.
We’re highly motivated by this partnership. Because of its tri-lateral organisation and the Wadden Sea’s UNESCO status, the CWSS chooses partners carefully, ensuring they conform to environmental codes and practices. We’re proud to have passed the checks.
Nature knows no borders, and neither does Oris’s campaign to bring Change for the Better. It’s a global, tangible mission to make the world a better place.
“Like nature, Oris’s Change for the Better campaign is unlimited by treaties or borders”
The Wadden Sea covers an area of 11,500km2, has a 500km coastline and is a vital stopping point for more than 10 million migratory birds every year
At eye level, it’s not always easy to appreciate the scale and beauty of the Wadden Sea, the largest unbroken tidal flat and barrier-island depositional system in the world. Covering 11,500km2 in the North Sea, it’s largely flat. From above, its complexity and natural beauty come into spectacular focus.
It’s also from the air that the transition from salt marshes to marine and brackish areas becomes clear. But even then, much of its value and importance remains hidden. The Wadden Sea is hugely biodiverse. At any one time, there are more than 6 million birds inside its borders. Each year, between 10 and 12 million migratory birds pass through it. The salt marshes host around 2,300 species of flora and fauna, and there are a further 2,700
species in the marine and brackish areas, and more than 30 species of breeding birds.
This makes it one of the most important natural properties on the planet. In fact, experts have calculated that biodiversity on a worldwide scale is reliant on the Wadden Sea.
To this point, it’s also remarkable because it’s one of the few remaining natural largescale intertidal ecosystems where natural processes continue to function largely undisturbed. This is why it needs protecting.
As with so many marine environments, the Wadden Sea is under constant threat from fishing, harbour development, oil and gas rigs, wind farms, maritime traffic, residential and tourism development, and the impact of climate change.
This is the role of the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat, acting on behalf of the Trilateral Wadden Sea Cooperation, and its executive secretary Bernard Baerends (see over). “When we heard about the scale and value of the work done by the CWSS, we felt compelled to offer our support,” says Oris Co-CEO Rolf Studer. “As well as raising awareness, we will also been supporting the organisation’s conservation efforts with funds raised from sales of the Dat Watt Limited Edition. Why? It’s the right thing to do.”
“Experts have calculated that biodiversity on a worldwide scale is reliant on the Wadden Sea”
Protecting the vast and hugely diverse Wadden Sea is a monumental task. Heading up the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat is Bernard Baerends
Mr Baerends, tell us a bit about yourself
My name is Bernard Baerends and I’m the executive secretary and head of the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat (CWSS). I live in the city of Groningen, in the northern part of the Netherlands, 30km from the Wadden Sea. I’ve spent my career working in water sanitation, agriculture, nature and food quality. My job is to make sure the tasks given to the CWSS are done properly.
What is the CWSS?
The story begins in 1978, when Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands began cooperating to protect the Wadden Sea as an ecological entity and formed the Trilateral Wadden Sea Cooperation. The CWSS was founded in 1987 and has been tasked with delivering all kinds of goals that support the Wadden Sea’s natural and sustainable ecosystem. It’s also our job to tell the world about the Wadden Sea World Heritage Site, and to build partnerships. Since 2009, when the Wadden Sea was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status, our mission has been “to strengthen the One Wadden Sea World Heritage in a changing world”.
How is the organisation funded?
We’re funded on an equal one-third basis by the three nature and environment ministries of Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands.
Where is the Wadden Sea and what is so remarkable about it?
The Wadden Sea is a place like no other, with a rich network of habitats and environments that’s home to thousands of species of flora and fauna. It is a vast, varied area of around 11,500km2, with a coastal strip of around 500km that stretches around the coast of Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands, at the south-eastern part of the North Sea. It’s constantly changing, sculptured by the flow of tides in north-west Europe.
Why is it so important?
In simple terms, it’s the largest unbroken tidal flat and barrier-island depositional system in the world. It’s recognised as being of global importance for the conservation of biodiversity and ecological and geological processes that still proceed mostly naturally. Ecologists have been documenting it since the early 20th century and it’s become a reference point for comparison with other tidal flats around the world. It’s home to more than 10,000 species, and an indispensable stepping stone for 10 to 12 million migratory birds every year looking for food. It’s also a shallow environment, which makes it of vital importance to the reproduction of many fish species. Overall, the Wadden Sea uniquely demonstrates how nature, plants and animals adapt themselves to constantly changing conditions.
What threats does it face?
There are many, but in principle they’re all human. We’re talking about potential for pollution from shipping and harbour development; introduction of alien species with ballast water; dredging and mining activities; unsustainable tourism; and certain fishery activities. And of course, a main area of concern is the impact of climate change.
How are these threats being overcome?
The Wadden Sea enjoys unprecedented levels of environmental protection, thanks to strict assessments and monitoring. This is what led to the UNESCO status award. That said, there is still much work to be done to raise awareness of the outstanding universal value of the Wadden Sea.
What more needs to be done?
It’s an ongoing mission to raise awareness of the area’s importance, and to communicate its vulnerability. We also need more research and monitoring to understand the potential effects of climate change.
How can we as world citizens play our part in conservation efforts?
Change for the Better, as Oris rightly calls it, starts with taking responsibility for our own actions, whether that’s stopping bad habits, or starting good ones.
How did your partnership with Oris come about and what does it involve?
Oris approached us, which was much appreciated. Before we could enter into a partnership, we had to evaluate the company. We found that Oris follows the highest standards of sustainability, and that it has a strong track record of working with esteemed environmental organisations. The partnership is our first with a private company outside the Wadden Sea area, and it’s set to run for a minimum of three years. It begins with the specially developed Dat Watt Limited Edition – Dat Watt means ‘the Wadden Sea’ in Low German. We’ll be running some events together to raise awareness, and, importantly, funds raised by sales of the watch will finance a project that we would not otherwise have been able to launch. We’re very excited to work with Oris!
“The Wadden Sea uniquely demonstrates how nature, plants and animals adapt to changing conditions”