Bridgewater Basin Floating Ecosystems

  • Bridgewater Basin Floating Ecosystems - Picture 1

What’s happening in the Basin?
Working in partnership Manchester City Council and Clean City Fund, along with Cityco, Bridgewater Hall, Petersfield Group and the Canal and River Trust, Internationally renowned Aquatic scientists Biomatrix are creating a network of floating active ecosystems to help improve the biodiversity and water quality of the Basin.

Why do it?
We want to increase the quality and functionality of both our green spaces (parks, gardens etc) and our blue spaces (rivers, canals and water bodies). At the moment the basin lacks a little interest, and this project aims to breathe new life into the water body, improving the aesthetic, creating a haven for wildlife.

What do they do?
They will be lovely to look at, but that’s not all. Many of the plants will provide a valuable food source for bees and other insects, which in turn will feed birds and bats. Underwater, there's even more going on. One of the problems along the canal is the lack of cover for fish and invertebrates. Using clever " dynamic media", nylon strands will be fixed to the underside of each island, creating a swaying mass of artificial "roots" perfect for fish to hide in and spawn against. These "roots" also encourage bacteria colonisation which helps improve water quality and reduce pollution.

  • Bridgewater Basin Floating Ecosystems - Picture 2
  • Bridgewater Basin Floating Ecosystems - Picture 3

What happens if the water levels rise or fall?
That’s the interesting bit.. The islands " float" but are attached to risers so they can, quite literally, go with the flow. They will rise and fall with any change in water levels.

How long will they be there?
For a long time, hopefully! Biomatrix Floating Active Ecosystems are constructed with durable materials, which will last for at least twenty years. Its a bit like planting a raised bed in your garden, once the plants are established, with just a little tlc they will hopefully take care of themselves.

How were the plants chosen?
Expert advice from Designers BDP and the National Trust's Head Gardener at Dunham Massey have come up with a stunning selection of useful and beautiful plants, both native and non native, that have a little bit of musicality to their selection. This is based on the interesting concept of Synethesia , in which sounds can evoke thoughts of colour. Based on this we have identified plant species and composition to help evoke the sense of spectacle that would come with a musical composition - perfect for the Bridgewater Hall location.

When will they flower?
There will be staggered flowering times to keep year round interest and be great for pollinators, but will take a year or so until they are fully established.

Who will maintain them?
The planting is designed to be very low maintenance, with limited cutting back to be undertaken by volunteers.

Below are some updates on the canal basins from our Instagram feed