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Floating islands give plants and animals a place to live while cleaning polluted waterways

[Sept 9, 2021: Jaron Schneider]


Biomatrix Water was involved in the Bridgewater Basin Floating Ecosystems in Manchester (CREDIT: Biomatrix Water)

A Scottish company which specializes in creating floating platforms that give plants and animal a place to live in city waterways is celebrating the success of its latest international venture in France.


Biomatrix Water, based in Moray, has been involved in a host of projects around the world - including a creating a mile-long floating park in Chicago.


Now it has been installing the world's largest floating river bank in an inner-city canal in Rennes.


It's the latest in a series of global projects which the company, based in the Enterprise Park in Forres, has landed after gaining support from Highlands and Islands Enterprise for its R&D, innovation and international marketing strategy.



Many of the world's cities are built around waterways. Paris and the Seine, Allahabad, India and the Ganges, Cairo and the Nile -- these rivers, at one time the life-force of their city, are now so polluted they're unfit for swimming and host very little natural wildlife.


After a year and a half of highly restricted movement, many people have been confined to the gray spaces of the inner city with little opportunity to escape to the countryside. A report published in April found that frequent visits to nature improved psychological well-being and reduced mental distress. Now more than ever the need for relaxing green spaces in cities is clear.


Biomatrix, based in Forres, has been installing the world's largest floating river bank in an inner-city canal in Rennes (CREDIT: Biomatrix Water)

And its creations are producing amazing results. One - a system of floating wetlands along the River Brent, a tributary of the Thames in Hanwell - have transformed the riverbank, increasing the diversity of plant species by 900 per cent as well as insect life. It has also been involved in the Bridgewater Basin Floating Ecosystems in Manchester.


The 2.3 x 1.15 meter (7.5 x 3.8 feet) interlocking platforms are made from 100% recycled and recyclable materials -- predominantly old water pipes welded together, covered with coconut fiber. These lush green islands rewild city rivers and hard-edged canals, providing a place for native plant species to re-establish themselves.


Before and After video of Bridgewater Basin in Manchester (CREDIT: Biomatrix Water)

The plants above the surface offer vital habitats for urban fauna and improve air quality, while below the water flourishes a micro-wilderness of submerged roots where fish can thrive, and communities of microorganisms break down harmful substances -- filtering pollution from the water like an artificial wetland.


Before and After video of Thamesmead Towne Centre in London (CREDIT: Biomatrix Water)

At the end of July, Biomatrix Water installed a new project at the Royal Docks in London. The project includes floating walkways alongside plant platforms, creating a new space for locals to be within nature in the middle of the city.


According to Lisa Shaw, co-founder of Biomatrix Water, the company has seen urban waterways completely transformed. "You see people sitting along the banks and just enjoying the beauty of it," she says. "We put in the habitat, and then life can take hold."




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