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Groundwork revitalising our estuaries project - River Tyne biomatrix

Groundwork Installs World’s First High Tide Floating Ecosystem at Newcastle Quayside

Through its flagship Revitalising our Estuaries programme; community and environmental charity Groundwork NE & Cumbria has spearheaded the development of a first of its kind ‘floating nature island’ to be installed on Newcastle Quayside in July.

The new 1,000 sq ft ecosystem, which equates to approximately 8 car parking spaces, is designed by Biomatrix Water, and will recreate habitat lost in industrialisation and urban development, improve water quality and green this section of the riverbank, fighting the dual climate and biodiversity crisis. Its innovative design accommodates the huge tidal and flow variations of the River Tyne. As a beautiful addition to the Quayside it will deliver nature-based solutions and Biodiversity Net Gain in Newcastle.

The installation will begin week commencing Monday 11th July 2022 with stakeholder and community events taking place throughout the week.

The new floating nature island will be a vital hub for wildlife such as invertebrates, pollinators, birds, molluscs and fish in an area where natural habitat is under threat from sea level rise. Halophyte (salt tolerant) plant species typical of this estuarine environment will provide a food source for wildlife and opportunities for birds to nest. The ecosystem will also shelter juvenile and migrating fish. Underneath the structure, the roots and fish refugia will create a mini reef system.

The nature island will be monitored by Groundwork NE & Cumbria and the University of Newcastle alongside Trinity College, Dublin who will work in partnership to support ongoing monitoring including ecological, social and economic impact assessment.

Paul Ennals, Chair of NEECCo, expressed: “I’m thrilled to see this world leading nature-based solution being installed in Newcastle; improving our water quality, air quality, fighting climate change and returning nature to the banks of the Tyne once more; inspiring pride of place.”

The project has community involvement at its heart as the nature island will be built and planted by local volunteers, community groups and schools. Volunteers from Northern Directions—a Groundwork led youth employment programme—will lend a hand, spreading the benefits to people as well as nature. Other community involvement includes educational visits for local schools and citizen science projects using technology such as underwater cameras. The programme also supports employment for young people through the government’s Kickstart Scheme, offering new opportunities to enter green jobs.

Supported by the Environment Agency’s WEIF programme, NE1, Northumbrian Water, the Green Recovery Challenge Fund and the Caterpillar Foundation; Revitalising our Estuaries (RoE) is a new programme of river estuary restoration, working in partnership using nature-based solutions it will improve sites across all six estuaries in the North East for local people and businesses whilst employing and providing training for 38 local young people.

Find out more about the Revitalising our Estuaries project below.

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