Resilient River: Floating Ecosystems Installed along the Whitworths Mill bank

09 Aug 2021

A unique solution to an all too common issue, floating ecosystems have been installed along the Whitworths Mill bank of the River Nene at Wellingborough Embankment. 

What was previously a bare, hard surfaced river bank has been totally transformed in to a thriving, more natural part of the river. As a part of the Resilient River project, part of the Nenescape Landscape Partnership, this scheme was developed in conjunction with the landowners either side of the river to improve the biodiversity of the area whilst also improving the aesthetics too. The River Nene Regional Park employed Biomatrix Water to install a total approximately 150m of floating ecosystems, resulting in 252sq.m of habitat being created along the banks of the river.   

The floating ecosystems are attached to weighted steel cables by large rings which allow them to float up and down to match the current water levels, this means they will not pose any flood risk during high flow periods and will also withstand the flooding and not take much, if any, damage. 

Once fully established the ecosystems will offer multiple benefits to the environment, the above surface vegetation significantly increases the diversity of plants on this stretch of river, creates a pollinator/green corridor, offers cover for small bird species in the feature tree planters and creates a nice visual aspect for visitors to the Embankment. Under the surface the trailing root systems will provide much needed cover for fish species, as well as a food source from the invertebrates which use the ecosystem for a home. Fish will also benefit from potential spawning habitat of the trailing roots. Water quality will also be improved as the ecosystems become a haven for micro-organisms which will use algae, carbon and other nutrients from the water as food, leading to purification of the water.   

This project is one of the exemplar sites within the Resilient River Scheme, but also kickstarts the delivery of ideas from the Wellingborough Waterside Study undertaken in 2019. 

The River Nene Regional Park would like to thank the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Environment Agency and Borough Council of Wellingborough (now North Northamptonshire Council) for funding the scheme, Whitworths Bros. Ltd for permission to install the floating ecosystems, Biomatrix Water for production and installation of the floating ecosystems and the Nenescape Landscape Partnership for support of the project.