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Find Out About Newcastle’s Innovative New Floating Ecosystem

Newcastle is typically a city that’s quick to embrace new ideas and is now playing host to a world first! If you find yourself on the Quayside right by Millennium Bridge, you might be a little confused when you spot what looks like a floating garden.



This is the brand-new Floating Ecosystem, a 1,000 square foot natural habitat that has been installed by Groundwork NE & Cumbria. This patch of floating land – the first of its kind anywhere – is roughly the size of eight car parking spaces and aims to recreate some of the natural habitat that’s been lost in the city as it has been developed.  Designed by Biomatrix Water, the small island will serve a number of very useful purposes: it will improve the water quality of this stretch of the river and nurture natural life, and in so doing make a small but significant contribution to fighting the climate and biodiversity crisis that’s facing us. Its innovative design will allow for the tidal variations along this stretch of the river AND it will look great too.


This little island will be monitored by Groundwork NE & Cumbria alongside University Of Newcastle and Trinity College, Dublin, who’ll work together to measure its ecological, social and economic impact. It’s hoped that it will provide a refuge for all manner of animal, bird and aquatic life, providing a food source and shelter, with its roots helping create a system of small reefs.


Community involvement has been key – from Northern Directions volunteers and school children helping with the construction and planting through to the ongoing school visits and citizen science projects. The island will also create jobs for young people through the Kickstart scheme.


The project has high level support from a wide range of organisations, from the Environment Agency and Northumbrian Water to NE1 and The Green Recovery Fund among others. As Hellen Hornby, the RoE (Revitalising Our Estuaries) Project Manager at Groundwork explains, “Although small, this ecosystem is the first of many in a vision to green the Quayside and the wider Tyne Estuary. With existing nature-based solutions installed at Royal Quays Marina, Hebburn in South Tyneside and more to follow in Gateshead and South Tyneside these pockets of nature will collectively provide vital food, resting and shelter for a wide range of important river estuary species.”


The Floating Ecosystem is just a part of an ongoing programme of estuary revitalisation, eventually involving sites across all six estuaries in the North East. As well as working towards a better natural habitat, these schemes will also provide employment and training and a great deal of scientific and community interest.


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