Novel project uses papyrus to protect Kenyan lake
London: A novel project comprising floating islands of recycled plastic bottles and papyrus plants will help protect the ecosystems of Naivasha, a renowned lake in Rift Valley, Kenya.
Funded by German REWE Group, the partnership between British tea producer Finlays and David Harper, from the University of Leicester, aims to utilise the water-cleansing services of papyrus on artificial floating islands.
Papyrus has many commercial uses, but it is a most valuable natural filter for dirty water.
A common plant of tropical wetlands, it is capable of acting like a sewage treatment works all on its own.
Harper said: "Lake Naivasha is a freshwater lake of around 100 sq km, and although once crystal clear and surrounded by papyrus, it has suffered badly in the past 30 years, according to a Leicester statement.
"A major factor is that Naivasha has been the fastest growing town in Kenya as a result of the bonanza of horticulture, cut flowers for export, which is now one of Kenya's top three earners of foreign exchange," he added.
Imarisha Naivasha is a multi-stakeholder organisation created by government to oversee the equitable and sustainable use of natural resources in the Naivasha basin.
It was set up by the Kenyan prime minister, after he requested help from the Prince of Wales' International Sustainability Unit.
The plastic bottle islands that have just been ordered from 'Floating Islands Southeast,' (FI-SE), a new US company, will be anchored once the papyrus has been planted, at the mouth of the main river, the Malewa, to trap silt before it reaches the lake.
The roots of papyrus islands also act as important fish nurseries and feeding grounds, whilst their five-metre tall stems hold a rich biodiversity of birds such as warblers and kingfishers.
The project is beneficial to both people and nature. If the first group of islands is successful, it will be repeated around the lake shore.