Royal Parks improve Serpentine water quality with an artificial island.

Artificial islands help clean up the Serpentine

As part of a programme of wildlife habitat improvements in the Royal Parks, Salix Bioengineering have built a large artificial ‘island’ on the Serpentine Lake in London’s Hyde Park.

The 200 square metre linear structure, comprising six separate islands positioned closely together, is now floating in the southern lake. It is designed to clean the lake’s water naturally ‘by creating an area where good bacteria can thrive, while providing erosion control and important new nesting areas for water birds, and habitat and food for fish’.
Head of ecology Julia Clark explains that improving lake and pond water quality is an ongoing priority across all eight royal parks, and that reducing pollutants in the water caused by rotting bread and other toxins is no easy feat. ‘However, the floating island on the Serpentine will help to improve the water quality in a chemical-free way and provide habitat and food for a variety of wildlife including insects, waterfowl and amphibians.’
Made from recycled plastic materials, including plastic bottles, the BioHaven floating island has been planted with native aquatic plants. Ecologist Leela O’Dea, who is working with Salix, explains: ‘BioHaven floating islands mimic the environmental benefits of wetlands in the natural world; they provide a healthy habitat for the whole aquatic food chain.’
Microscopic organisms will build-up naturally, becoming a biofilm on the surface of the island, cleaning the water and providing food for the zooplankton, micro and macro invertebrates like dragonfly nymphs and snails and, further up the chain, food for the fish. The island’s vegetation creates important nesting areas and feeding opportunities for insects such as bees and butterflies, and water birds, including coots, moorhens, grebes and swans.

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