Plastic islands help restore Kenyan lake

Posted by pt91 at Sep 20, 2012 04:03 PM |
A University of Leicester biologist is helping to create plastic floating islands containing papyrus plants in Kenya
Plastic islands help restore Kenyan lake

One of the remaining patches of papyrus left at Naivasha.

The German REWE Group is funding a papyrus restoration partnership between UK-owned tea producer and flower grower Finlays and Dr David Harper, a Senior Lecturer in our Department of Biology, which aims to recreate the water-cleansing services of papyrus as artificial floating islands*.

The papyrus restoration project is one of several ongoing initiatives in the Lake Naivasha basin being coordinated by the ‘Imarisha Naivasha’, an initiative to help restore this damaged lake that has long been supported by Dr Harper.

The restoration project at Lake Naivasha entails papyrus being planted in islands made of recycled post-consumer plastics, such as bottled water containers, made by a new US company called ‘Floating Islands Southeast’. Papyrus has many commercial uses, but it is a most valuable natural filter for dirty water. A common plant of tropical wetlands, it is capable of acting like a sewage treatment works all on its own.

The islands will be anchored in the mouth of the main river, the Malewa, to trap silt before it reaches the lake. The roots of papyrus islands also act as important fish nurseries and feeding grounds, whilst their 5-metre tall stems hold a rich biodiversity of birds such as warblers and kingfishers. 

*Not to be confused with a combination of meringue and crème anglaise, which presumably would be a dessert island.

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