Inspired by Nature

The truth is, natural organisms have managed to do everything we want to do without guzzling fossil fuels, polluting the planet or mortgaging the future

Janine Benyus, biomimicry author

A Moray-based water restoration and treatment company is harnessing the genius and timeless wisdom of nature to bring new life to rivers, lakes and canals while enhancing biodiversity and revitalising wildlife habitats.

Before and after photographs provide dramatic evidence of what Biomatrix Water is achieving around the world with a combination of cutting-edge technology and the miraculous healing powers of nature. Degraded, polluted or sterile waterscapes are transformed into havens of beauty and vibrancy — and in a surprisingly short space of time.

Galen Fulford (far right) in The Living Machine with the team from Springfield Properties

Galen Fulford (far right) in The Living Machine with the team from Springfield Properties

"The processes of the systems we use are based on co-creation with nature — a founding principle of the Findhorn Foundation community", according to managing partner Galen Fulford.

The award-winning Findhorn and Forres-based company, which has been involved since the early 1990s in the design and development of a pioneering ecological wastewater treatment system in The Park known as The Living Machine, is now exporting its vision and technology worldwide, while drawing strongly on local experience and expertise.

At a time when water security is becoming a global concern, the company is offering solutions and systems that are designed and engineered to be sustainable and cost effective.

"In a world of seemingly infinite urbanisation and expanding intensive agriculture, we believe that the future of development is to design and engineer systems and infrastructure to be sustainable and resilient.

The scene of extreme pollution that confronted Biomatrix Water in the Philippines

The scene of extreme pollution that confronted Biomatrix Water in the Philippines

And how it looked after Floating Ecosystems were used in co-operation with the healing powers of nature

And how it looked after Floating Ecosystems were used in co-operation with the healing powers of nature

"Current standard approaches to centralised urban wastewater treatment are highly energy intensive, and all over the world we see water quality and habitat being compromised due to insensitively designed hard-edged urban waterways.

"Biomatrix believes in the power of nature. Our products prove that with the wise use of durable modern materials, and some innovative design engineering based on biomimicry processes, there are effective, sustainable and even lower-cost alternatives to these outdated approaches to water management."

Specialties include the creation of Floating Ecosystems, comprising islands or edges to waterways that serve as platforms where nature can weave its magic and bring systems into balance by tackling pollution, algae and the breakdown of sewage.

Examples include stark concrete-walled canals in places as diverse as central London and Manila in the Philippines that have been transformed into appealing river-like waterways supporting a diversity of birds, insects and aquatic life.

"Our Floating Ecosystems provide rich riparian habitat for lakes, canals and rivers," he says. "They facilitate the natural processes and ecology of the river to rebalance itself, leaving waterways revitalised and flourishing."

Lisa Shaw takes a water sample for on-the-spot analysis

Lisa Shaw takes a water sample for on-the-spot analysis

Galen sees the latest approach to waterway restoration and ecological wastewater treatment as an important new story for humanity, with projects already designed or installed in the UK, USA, Philippines, India and China. The team are currently working with the United Nations, the Highlands and Islands Enterprise branch of the Scottish Government, Scottish Water, SEPA, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, and Springfield Properties, a leading Scottish development company, on the delivery of future projects.

The Helix Flow Reactor is a contemporary wastewater treatment system inspired by the technology of The Living Machine and halves the embodied energy and carbon footprint of conventional water treatment works.

"Biomatrix has established itself as a business where the two worlds of technical engineering and ecological approaches converge. It is this potent integration of innovative ecologically-centred thinking and practical implementation that we believe is the new story for global water management.

"For a new story to emerge we need to work with the existing structures, introducing them to a new vision for water management, in order to affect deeper systemic change to infrastructures in the long-term."

Swans at Brayford Pool

Swans at Brayford Pool

He describes Biomatrix Water as a Findhorn wider community company that is working throughout the world to provide products and services to meet the growing demand for innovative ecological solutions to global water challenges. "But just because we are doing business internationally doesn’t mean that we’ve forgotten our roots! After all, the processes of the systems we use are based on the Findhorn Foundation community's founding principle of co-creating with nature."

Some key members of the team live in eco homes within the Findhorn Ecovillage and are also involved in teaching modules of the annual Findhorn College Design for Sustainability programme.

"We feel that the work we are doing from our base here in Findhorn and Forres not only raises the profile and awareness of ecological and sustainable approaches and solutions in Moray, but that this also ripples through Scotland and out into the rest of the world."

Geoff Dalglish

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