Many of the world's cities are built around waterways. At one time the life-force of their city, many are now so polluted they're unfit for swimming, host very little natural wildlife and are, frankly, distressing to look at and live beside.
The good news is that Biomatrix Water, a biological technology company based in Scotland, has developed a solution using a system of floating modular plant platforms that green and clean urban waterways, reports CNN.
The small interlocking platforms are made from 100 percent 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.
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. After a little time, a wide variety of wildlife repopulate the clean waterways and greened banks.
Fiona Shaw, one of the company's founders, says a large part of their work is inspiring residents to love their neglected waterways. "It's creating that personal connection and sense of wanting to steward and care for their local waterway and the environment," she says. Shaw tells CNN they have 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."
Biomatrix Water has installed floating islands throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas. The platforms are commercially available, while other projects are funded by partners including city councils and environmental charities. Last year, a series of the company's projects completed along the Rochdale canal in Manchester, in collaboration with the Canal and River Trust, won a Green Flag award - an international accreditation for well-managed and accessible green spaces.