Floating islands – ecological upgrading through digital manufacturing.
Eutrophication is the accumulation of nutrients and minerals in an ecosystem, often caused by human influence. This leads to the formation of algae, odor and lack of oxygen and thus to the destruction of the habitats of many animals living in and near the water. Especially nitrogen and phosphate inputs from agricultural fields enter the water and lead to eutrophication. Floating islands are floating bodies planted with water plants that not only beautify rivers and lakes but can also enrich and thus improve the ecosystem. The part of the floating islands above water can serve as a habitat for birds, dragonflies, beetles, frogs and other animals, whereas the parts of plants under water (roots protrude into the water) can be used by small fish and other small animals living under water. The roots of aquatic plants also contribute to the absorption of excess nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, as well as organic material in the root zone below the water surface.
In a cooperation between the NABU-Naturschutzstation Niederrhein and the Rhine-Waal University of Applied Sciences, such floating islands are built from sustainable, durable and local materials together with a school class by digital fabrication in the Green FabLab, planted and then inserted into the Klever Spoykanal. The planned scientific monitoring, which will be carried out and documented annually over a longer period of time, will systematically record water quality and species richness. In this way it can be tested to what extent these floating islands can ecologically enhance the water.