Duckweed explosion puts UK waterways diversity under threat

Explosion in duckweed is threatening marine life
Explosion in duckweed is threatening marine life

Waterways maintenance company The Rothen Group has warned that the explosion in duckweed is threatening marine life and is calling for a sustainable solution.

Duckweed causes damage by preventing sunlight from hitting the water and reducing oxygen levels.

According to The Rothen Group, this has damaging consequences for the biodiversity of our waterways, and significantly impacts on their long-term health. To prevent the uncontrolled growth of this invasive species, those tasked with clearing weeds should turn to specialist marine equipment to combat the issue.

Charlotte Lea, ecologist for The Rothen Group, explains: “It is important to understand why weed clearance is such an big issue, in order to make the case for a sustainable solution. Biodiversity is crucial across all habitats, and canals are no different. Duckweed dominates the surface of the water, which prevents sunlight from reaching other marine life and effectively chokes the waterway.

“Weeds can also build up around certain places, such as under bridges, causing blockages as rubbish and waste becomes stuck. With waterways increasingly becoming a focal point for development in towns and cities, the nasty smell and unpleasant aesthetics of this problem is a big concern.”

Plants such as duckweed, common reed, floating pennywort, and water ferns are all classed as weeds, and flourish during the warmer months of the year. Rising temperatures, increased sunlight, and higher nitrogen levels are all factors which cause waterways to become choked with these invasive plant species.

To further complicate the task of clearing waterways, weeds grow in a number of different ways. Some are situated along bank edges, some grow from beneath the surface, and some form blankets. The mix of species and how they manifest makes the challenge of clearing them even greater, necessitating a nuanced approach to their removal.

Instagram Posts from the IIMS @iimsmarine