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Sandpipers and the Art of Letting Go: Narratives of Conservation in the Wadden Sea



The history of conservation in the Wadden Sea reserves a starring role for birds. Birds were important in early conservation efforts, are central to its policies today, and contribute to its success as a protected area, but they can also help us think about nature reserves conceptually and critically assess their role in society. Nature reserves are often considered static, unchanging, and ahistorical places. This article provides a reading of Ed Leeflang’s poem “The Sanderling” to show how literature about birds can help us think about nature reserves as historical places shaped by a multitude of more-than-human agencies, and marked by loss.