Natural cork islands are artificial wetlands whose objective is to purify water, reduce evaporation, enhance biodiversity, generate biomass, absorb CO₂ and be a refuge for fauna. They are made of natural cork which provide support for growing aquatic plants on the water. The sheets are prepared with holes where the plants grow, and which allow the roots to go into the water. Plants have a wide variety of uses: oxygenation of water, CO2 sequestration, nutrient absorption (nitrogen and phosphorus) and salinity, removal of pollutants, solids filtration, pollination, livestock fodder, decoration, etc. Carbon storage capacity will increase thanks to the new vegetation. As a fodder, it is interesting in summer when forage offer level is lower. Plants will sprout again due to aquatic environment. Moreover, it is a point of attachment to prevent livestock drowning. It does not require any maintenance. The main benefits are: they are free of plastics, plants can be chosen according to the needs of the wetland, source of fodder in summer, prevention of livestock drowning, restoration of wetlands and it improves the quality of the water available for livestock. The main challenges were that water surface must be at least 20 cm deep and it is advisable to implement it with mild temperatures. Key success factors for implementation are proper selection of plant species, level of nutrients in the water and mild temperatures for plants initial growth. 

Three main lessons learned for implementation are: 

1. Multifunctional solution that, while improving the quality of the water available for livestock, improves ecosystems, 

2. Interesting source of food in summer when forage offer level is lower, 

3. It does not require any maintenance.

Impact  on socio-economic resilience

A module with 100 plants chosen according to the needs of the wetland costs € 350 approx. It does not require any maintenance. The water surface must be at least 20 cm deep.

Impact on animal health and welfare

It is a point of attachment in the event of a fall to prevent drowning of livestock. Improves water quality for livestock.

Impact on production efficiency and meat quality

Not much impact. They can be a source of food in summer when forage offer level is lower.

Impact on environmental sustainability

They are completely environmentally friendly natural filter systems that remove suspended solids, organic matter, heavy metals, eutrophying elements and pathogenic microorganisms. They act as filtering surfaces for water, based on the Typhas species, which has the capacity to purify the equivalent of 1 inhabitant for every 2-3 m² of surface area. They generate biomass and absorb CO₂.


Audio-visual material 

https://youtu.be/ZuwUSzN3AXA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJPWEtbelBw&list=TLGG7EOUgrkau3wxOTEwMjAyMQ&t=6s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VvjFH-EuB5U&list=TLGG-pP33s4r4Z8xOTEwMjAyMQ&t=6s

https://www.islasdecorchonatural.es/index.php?option=com_phocagallery&view=category&id=4&Itemid=257


Further information

Practice Guidline (Spanish): https://liveadapt.eu/publicaciones/

EIP Agri: https://ec.europa.eu/eip/agriculture/en/find-connect/projects/cork-islands-improve-wetlands-functions

Company Website: https://www.islasdecorchonatural.es/