Anders Bekeken

100 Places To Remember: Halligen Islands Germany

Geschreven op 23-5-2010 - Erik van Erne. Geplaatst in Natuur Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

100places to rememberLiving on the Seas Terms. The inhabitants of the ten small Halligen Islands off the north coast of Germany spent centuries adapting to the moods of the sea around them. The low-lying islands, which have been shaped by the rising tides of the North Sea, still retain their harsh, unspoiled nature.

The name Halligen comes from the Celtic word Hal, which means salt. It refers to the occasional flooding of the islands when salty sea water penetrates far inland. This phenomenon has created a distinctive ecosystem, with fertile salty meadows where sea lavender blossoms in summer, and plants and animals that depend on the influx of salt water.

The islanders ancestors constructed mounds several metres high called warften and then built their dwellings and other buildings on top of the warften to protect them from storm tides. Sheep graze on the surrounding meadows, their hooves helping the ground that serves as the foundations for the warften to remain compact and solid.

When flooding occurs, and parts of the islands are Land unter (flooded), the islanders flee to the warften with their livestock and wait for the sea to retreat.

Global warming is expected to raise sea levels, which would flood the Halligen Islands more frequently and make it difficult to farm there. Erosion caused by heavy storms and high tides would destabilise the foundations of the warften, putting the unique island habitat at risk.

The Halligen Islands are known as the atolls of the north. Like the low-lying coral islands and atolls of the Pacific Ocean, they are at the mercy of the sea and are in danger of disappearing as sea levels rise.

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