Pioneering Boost for Marine Life Docks until 2028

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A pioneering floating ecosystem, designed to enhance marine life and biodiversity at Liverpool’s Wapping Dock, has had its own lifespan extended until 2028.

Installed in 2020 as a collaboration between the Canal & River Trust and Liverpool City Council on their EU funded Urban GreenUp programme, the floating island is a 63m2 saltwater ecosystem.

While the surface shows a variety of plants like reeds, grasses and flowering, underneath it features a shingle shelf for small fish and a submerged ‘reef’ made of empty oyster shells in cages.

In just three years, numerous plant and marine species have flourished. Mussels have thrived to such an extent that extra buoyancy had to be added to prevent the structure from sinking!

Despite its success, the project was due to come to an end and was to be removed in summer 2023 as EU funding came to an end.

However, Liverpool BID Company, on behalf of 1,000 levy paying businesses in Liverpool city centre, have agreed to fund the ecosystem for another 3-5 years in a sponsorship agreement worth £15k. 

The island itself has been built to last for 15 years, Liverpool City Council will maintain ownership while the Canal & River Trust will oversee its upkeep. 

The groundbreaking floating ecosystem has been described as a prototype for innovative environmental solutions, and a model for integrating nature based developments into city scapes.

Shortlisted for the International Ashden Community Adaptation awards and entered into the AIPGH World Green City Awards for 2024, the project is seen as a blueprint for creative and sustainable ecological developments in the heart of cities. 

The news also comes just days after Liverpool was revealed to be just one of five cities chosen from a list of 100 to be supported by the Sustainable Cities Mobility Challenge which aims to promote projects that deliver the transition toward cleaner, greener, and more people-centred transport.

Dr Juliet Staples, Liverpool City Council’s Senior Project Manager for URBAN GreenUP, said: “Green places and water spaces are important features in our cities.  Not only do they make for a more pleasant city but the environmental, social and economic benefits that green and blue spaces provide also help cities adapt to climate change impacts and become more resilient. In this context floating ecosystems can form part of a suite of options for cities wanting to increase their biodiversity and make their cities more liveable.

“I’m delighted that Liverpool BID Company has been able to work with the Canal and River Trust to ensure that this innovative and pioneering  floating ecosystem can remain in situ for a while longer and continue to provide multiple benefits to the local area.”

Bill Addy is CEO of Liverpool BID Company, said: “Our commitment as a city to being ambitious and earnest in our approach to improving our green infrastructure should not be in any doubt. We have laudable high targets as a city and a city region to enhance our green credentials and build a city that can thrive in the future. The investment we make now has a positive impact on future generations, and that is always our civic duty within Liverpool. The determination of the private sector to support that process is always very keenly felt here at Liverpool BID Company and we are delighted to be able to add longevity to this critical and inspiring project. 

Diane Rollin, an ecologist at Canal & River Trust, said: “This innovative brackish water ecosystem is a significant environmental project, both locally and globally, and over the last three years it has thrived to support all manner of marine life, including blue mussels and a diversity of sea squirts (filter feeders), which remove toxins from the water and help to improve water quality.”

Jon Horsfall, North West regional director, Canal & River Trust, added: “Protecting the precious biodiversity and nature in our waterways is crucial to Canal & River Trust, the charity which cares for 2,000 miles of waterways in England and Wales, including Wapping Dock. So, we are delighted that Liverpool BID is funding the project until 2028 so we can continue to develop it and see it flourish further.”

Liverpool Waterfront