Westerschelde & Saeftinghe


Westerschelde & Saeftinghe

  • Country: 
    Netherlands (Kingdom of the)
  • Site number: 
  • Area: 
    43,647 ha
  • Designation date: 
  • Coordinates: 
    51°24'N 03°46'E
Materials presented on this website, particularly maps and territorial information, are as-is and as-available based on available data and do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area, or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.


This Site covers the entire estuary of the River Schelde, stretching 60 kilometres from the border with Belgium to the North Sea; it is one of the largest and most intact Atlantic salt marshes in Europe. In 2014 the boundary and name of the former “Westerschelde en Verdronken Land van Saeftinge” Ramsar Site were updated to align with the Natura 2000 site. The extensive mudflats and sandbanks regularly support more than 100,000 wintering waterbirds and more than 1% of the respective biogeographic populations of 14 bird species, as well as many other endangered breeding birds such as the Kentish plover (Charadrius alexandrinus) and Sandwich tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis). The mudflats support endangered molluscs, and the tidal waters are important spawning grounds for migratory fish including sea lamprey and twaite shad (Alosa fallax). Harbour seal (Phoca vitulina) regularly use the Site. Human uses include farming, birdwatching, tourism, commercial fisheries, shipping, conservation and research. The main threats to the ecological character of the Site are posed by aquaculture, industrialization, urbanization, the extension of harbours, dredging and canalization, the construction of wind farms, pollution and eutrophication.

Administrative region: 

  • National legal designation: 
    • National Ecological Network (NEN) - Westerschelde & Saeftinge
  • Regional (international) legal designations: 
    • EU Natura 2000
  • Last publication date: 


Ramsar Information Sheet (RIS)

Additional reports and documents