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03 September 2010

‘Green Wall’ Technology Could Double the Plant Diversity of the River Thames Through London

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Only half the number of plant species that could blossom along the walls of the River Thames finds a suitable place to grow, yet this could potentially double with the introduction of 'green wall' technology, according to a presentation at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)'s international conference.
Research conducted by Simon Hoggart and Rob Francis from the Department of Geography at King's College London found that the river holds a much broader range of seeds in its water and sediment than can be found growing along its central London foreshore and embankments. Although the river walls already support almost 90 plant species, many more do not have anywhere to grow because the walls do not provide a suitable habitat.

"As any gardener knows, plants are adept at growing in unlikely places -- between train tracks, shooting up through cracks in tarmac -- but when it comes to the sheer concrete or sheet metal of city river walls, they really struggle to get a root-hold," Simon begins.

Simon is due to begin work with Thames21 trialling cost-effective new technology that has the bonus of not requiring major building works. "We're going to be testing 'green wall' technology which involves attaching specially-designed frames to the river walls. It has previously only been used on dry land to encourage plant growth, but we think it has the potential to double this aspect of the Thames's biodiversity," Simon explains.

Simon's research findings have helped secure funding through a partnership with Thames21 -- a waterways charity that uses volunteers in the city to clean 'waterside grot-spots' and create new habitat for wildlife.


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