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Novel plastic-and-papyrus restoration project
Date:9/20/2012

Plans are being implemented to create plastic floating islands containing papyrus plants to help protect the ecosystems of a renowned lake in the Rift Valley, Kenya.

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 at the University of Leicester, 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' management board , aimed at reversing negative effects of environmental degradation. Imarisha Naivasha is a multi-stakeholder organisation created by government to oversee the equitable and sustainable use of natural resources in the Naivasha basin. Imarisha was set up by the Kenya Prime Minister, after he requested help from the Prince of Wales' International Sustainability Unit to make recommendations for action; HRH sent experts to whom David Harper was a consultant.

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 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'.

The islands that have just been ordered from FI-SE will be anchored once the papyrus has been planted, 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. Thus the project is beneficial to both people and nature. If the first group of i
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Contact: Dr. David M. Harper
dmh@le.ac.uk
University of Leicester
Source:Eurekalert  

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