Floating Islands get a revamp

In 2019, SCRT installed three floating islands in Elterwater as part of our ongoing Elterwater remediation project.
Elterwater is a Special Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI), formed from three connected basins (inner, middle and outer basin) and fed by Great Langdale Beck and Little Langdale Beck. Situated just outside the small village of Elterwater in the Langdale Valley, Elterwater has been badly affected by historical pollution.
SCRT have been working to improve the water quality of Elterwater for a number of years. We installed 3 islands on the outer basin of Elterwater, to provide nesting habitat for species such as Great Crested Grebes. However, the floating platforms needed some much needed TLC since their installation, so we went back in March 2022 to update them.
Funded by the European Rural Development fund, this task formed part of multiple deliverables to complete, through the Water Environment Grant we obtained to enhance features of the site. Floating constructed wetlands are based on naturally occurring rafts of wetland vegetation and are designed to mimic these unique habitats. By replicating these unique structures we can provide many benefits for Elterwater, its ecology and its water quality.
Floating vegetated structures can act as a safe refuge from predation for water fowl and act as an effective nesting site as they rise and fall with the lake level. Washing away of nests is prevented, meaning a greater rate of brood success for the species using the platforms.
The plants planted into the floating islands grow without soil which allows for a a network of roots to develop below the floatation layer. This allows nutrients, which are unnaturally high in Elterwater, to be removed and assimilated into the biomass of the plants. The root networks also provide a diverse habitat, allowing refuge for juvenile fish and invertebrates.
The islands are anchored into the bed of the lake with strong steel cable and were purchased by SCRT from Frog Environmental. Two of these installations have been added to Elterwater and we are looking forward to seeing the plants grow and colonise the floating platforms. We will even take some underwater photography to show the development of the root network and bio films, so watch this space.

Funding for this project is from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development. Europe investing in rural areas.