: The condition describing the presence of oxygen in the water.

: To supply ( the soil or a liquid) with air. A critical variable associated with waterway health. Nutrient surges can cause oxygen depletion, even in the presence of a floating island. Dissolved oxygen is vital for the health of a waterway, for fish productivity, for bio-complexity. Phosphorous-consuming microbes need aerated water. If oxygen is depleted, fewer species can grow in the water, and monocultures take over.

Anchor Attachment: Every BioHaven® Floating Island leaves the factory with an anchor attachment fixed to its underside – several in the case of large islands. A suitable anchor can be tied onto the anchor ring with a length of cord, or a heavy chain (plastic coated). Cinder blocks make good anchors, though care needs to be taken if your pond is lined.

Anaerobic: A condition in which free and dissolved oxygen is unavailable.

Anoxic: A total decrease in the level of oxygen, an extreme form of hypoxia or “low oxygen”.

Archipelago: This is the term we use to refer to a group of islands that have been joined together with joining cables.

Bare-root: We recommend washing off the existing soil from the roots of any plants destined for floating islands, to enable the roots to establish quickly and to prevent fertilizers from the soil entering the water.

Bio-complexity: The interrelationships of all the life forms in a single system, all working in harmony to keep the system active and healthy.

Bio-diversity: The multiplicity of living organisms co-existing so that no one species (or monoculture) dominates.

Bio-film: Microbes and their residue, experienced by humans as slime, which is critical for performing aerobic microbial activity. It takes 4 – 6 weeks to create and 3 – 5 years to reach maturity. It can’t be mimicked by commercial additives. Biofilm forms on plant roots growing beneath the islands. Suspended solids in the water column (organics / heavy metals in the form of particulates) adhere to biofilm and eventually slough off and wind up in the sediment. Provided anaerobic conditions are maintained in the sediment, the particles are effectively sequestered.

Bio-mimetics: The science of using natural systems as models for man-made systems. Asking the question: “how does Nature do this?” and finding ways to replicate it. Floating Islands are, of course, an example of this. Another example is designing an adhesive based on the way mussel shells adhere together…… another example is how Velcro biomimics cockleburs.

Biomimicry: Biomimicry (from bios, meaning life, and mimesis, meaning to imitate) is a new discipline that studies nature’s best ideas and then imitates these designs and processes to solve human problems. Studying a leaf to invent a better solar cell is an example. Think of it as “innovation inspired by nature.” The core idea is that nature, imaginative by necessity, has already solved many of the problems we are grappling with. Animals, plants, and microbes are the consummate engineers. They have found what works, what is appropriate, and most important, what lasts here on Earth. This is the real news of biomimicry: After 3.8 billion years of research and development, failures are fossils, and what surrounds us is the secret to survival.
For more information or to join a group dedicated to the education of biomimicry, visit:

BioMix: This is the proprietary blend of bedding / potting soil recommended for planting in a BioHaven. It is made up of peat and earthworm castings. The key properties of BioMix are: it is light and won’t cause negative buoyancy issues, it is extremely low in phosphorous and nitrates and it will wick water up to 7 inches. This allows the plants on a BioHaven to obtain all their water from below. (Additional benefits are: it is weed-free, it will not fall through the matrix).

Bioremediation: The breaking down of unwanted nutrients and environmental contaminates utilizing microbes. Microbes consume those nutrients, such as nitrates, eliminating toxicity and converting them into basic elements such as carbon dioxide.

BMQ – Bio-Mediation Quotient: This is the term we use to describe the total surface area of a BioHaven, taking into account the strands of matrix per square inch, most of which is hidden from view, as well as the surface area provided by BioMix, and plant roots. This surface area is available for microbes to colonise, and thus reduce nutrients from the water, hence the concept of Bio-Mediation. The BMQ of floating islands is 24 square feet for each volume of matrix that has a top surface of 1 square foot and a thickness of 1 inch. A 250 square foot BioHaven translates to over 40,000 square feet of surface area, or an acre of “concentrated” wetland surface area. This is distinct from “treatment capacity”, which is the term we use for describing the size of island needed to treat a given concentration of nutrients in the water. We have several important studies underway to establish treatment capacity data for BioHavens.

Carbon / Methane credits: A system of trading whereby you can claim monetary credit by tonne of carbon / methane you sequester, using officially sanctioned methods. Carbon credits are traded on the Chicago Carbon Exchange (for example). We are currently working on a system of measuring the sequestration capabilities of floating islands so that they can be approved for carbon credit trading.

Carbon sequestration: Carbon dioxide, when released into the atmosphere, is a ‘greenhouse’ gas, and contributes to global warming when it exceeds the amount that can be taken up by trees, plants, soil etc. Carbon sequestration refers to various means of capturing and storing carbon dioxide to remove it permanently from the atmosphere and mitigate against global warming. We are attempting to measure the rate of carbon sequestration that can be achieved by a floating island and its eco-system.

Cobble Stone Effect: Using trim, we can create a cobble-stone effect by appropriate shaping of our matrix and the application of a hard surface coating. Cobbles can be used to create an aesthetic and rigid surface on a boardwalk, for example, or foamed and attached to the underside of an island to add more BMQ and buoyancy.

Critical riparian edge habitat: The riparian edge is the land immediately adjacent to streams, lakes or other bodies of water, and is one of the most productive biological systems in the world. Rich soils, abundant moisture and the presence of nutrients support a complex natural community of plants and other wildlife. But this habitat, once destroyed, is difficult and costly to recreate. BioHaven floating islands offer a wonderful way to create new critical riparian edge habitat.

Dead Zone: Any body of water which has become devoid of oxygen, and typically eutrophied, so that it can no longer support a balanced eco system and everything in it dies: except perhaps an undesirable monoculture, like stinging jelly-fish. There is a 22,000 km dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico (and many more around the planet) resulting from the nutrients poured into it by the Mississippi River, which gathers up polluted water right from its headwaters. How do we restore dead-zones? One floating island at a time!

Dissolved Oxygen: This refers to oxygen (O2) dissolved in an aqueous solution. Oxygen gets into water by diffusion from the surrounding air, by aeration, and as a waste product of photosynthesis, from wetland plants in particular. Aerobic microbial activity uses up the oxygen in a waterway, so it is vital that air is added to nutrient-rich water to keep it healthy and prevent monocultures such as algae taking over. Cold water holds more oxygen than warm water.

Emergent Plant: Emergent plants are rooted in the lake bottom, but their leaves and stems extend out of the water. They grow in wetlands and along the shore, where the water is typically four or five feet deep. Examples of emergent plants are alwort (rare aquatic plant), bulrushes, cattails, flowering rush (invasive aquatic plant), purple loosestrife (invasive aquatic plant), reed (phragmites) and wild rice.

Eutrophication: The aging of a waterbody. Excess nutrients can speed up eutrophication.

Facultative: (biology) (of an organism) Able to live under widely different environmental conditions (especially other aerobically or anaerobically).

Green Technology: Technology whose use is intended to mitigate or reverse the effects of human activity on the environment

Hydrophilic Foam: This is a foam which has superior water wicking and retention qualities (literally means it loves water). It is one of the components of BioMix.

Hydroponic: Literally, to place on water, it means to grow plants directly in a solution of nutrients, without the medium of soil. Plants can be grown hydroponically on a floating island, by placing them directly into the matrix. The recommended option, though, is to place them into a planting pocket or wicking channel filled with BioMix (which is not actually hydroponic).

Hypoxia: Intellectual PropertThe condition of having an under-supply of oxygen in living tissue. This seriously threatens the viability of fish and crawfish. Some researchers believe that some fish change gender (from female to male) as a strategy to cope with hypoxic conditions. Therefore, aeration is extremely important (who needs a pond full of males??).

Intellectual Property: This is a legal term signifying that the ideas of an inventor can become property, and be granted rights of protection like other forms of property. Protection is usually sought in the form of patents or trade-secrets. Patents are expensive and time-consuming to obtain, but, once granted, they offer the inventor a limited monopoly for twenty years in order to reap the rewards of the invention and compensate for the costs of developing the product.

Island Modules: This is a floating island made to a standard size, 5’ x 8’ x 10”, many of which can be joined together to form large islands. The island module is the basic building block for large projects such as boardwalks, piers, docks, etc.

Joiner Pins: These are used to join sections of the larger BioHavens together, ie, the BioHaven 150 and higher, which come in several sections which require assembly on-site.

Joining Cables: An accessory, used for joining complete islands together to form an archipelago. A joining cable consists of a short length of cable, with a serrated pin at each end. The pin pushes easily into the matrix of each island to be joined, and the cable allows them to sit close to each other with sufficient space in between for water to flow freely.

License: An agreement where the rights to manufacture a new invention covered by patents are “sold” in return for royalty payments for the lifetime of the patents (usually 20 years).

Marker species: This is a species whose presence signifies (“marks”) a particular condition, typically because they are highly sensitive. For example, a marker species for clean, chemical-free, water is the leopard frog (the FII emblem), which absorbs chemicals through its skin and can’t survive in nutrient-rich water. The presence of these frogs in your waterway “marks” that the water is relatively pure.

Matrix: The basic material floating islands are made from is a non-woven matrix, made from recycled polyester, a plastic, also referred to as a polymer. The plastic is extruded and spun. The matrix is supplied to us in layers, which we then shape and bond together with adhesive foam to create the family of floating island models. The open nature of the matrix allows plant roots to grow through it, yet it is dense enough to hold BioMix without leakage. Its fine network of “fibers” create a huge surface area for colonisation by microbes (see BMQ).

Matrix Anchor (or Coral Anchor): An anchor, for use in larger projects, shaped like a coral reef, made of bonded layers of matrix, and weighted down by an internal mass of concrete. It provides additional surface area (BMQ) for colonisation by microbes and other organisms. The concrete can be added on site for ease of transportation.

Methane: Methane is a greenhouse gas 30 times worse than carbon dioxide. It can potentially be captured by a floating island “lid” and converted into bio-gas.

Microbes: Strictly speaking, microbes can be bacteria, plants or animals; but we usually use the words bacteria and microbes interchangeably. Microbes – in the form of biofilm – are the biggest factor in removing nutrients from water. Microbes occur naturally in waterways, and they can also be bought commercially. Our research indicates that naturally-occurring microbes are as effective as commercial microbes at removing nutrients. Microbial activity is what makes an aquatic system work. Microbes work really well on floating islands, even without plants – as evidenced by our research studies.

Negative buoyancy: The condition also known as “sinking”. Occasionally it is necessary to add negative buoyancy, for example, to an island that sits too high in the water. Negative buoyancy can be applied using landscape rocks or other aesthetic accessories.

Nutrients: Typically nitrogen and phosphorus, which are used in fertilizers. Not all nutrients are undesirable: in some areas, phosphorus is added to ponds to cause algae to grow in order to provide fish food. But in general, most waterways are considered polluted if nutrients are too concentrated and algal blooms occur. There are regulations limiting the nutrient levels allowed in municipal waterways.

Planting pockets: Large hollows built into some in BioHavens (sod/pocket, or pocket-only models), into which you put BioMix, followed by plants. The pockets are usually 2 layers deep.

Reserve buoyancy: This is the buoyancy still available to a floating island after it has been planted and launched. It is the amount of weight you can put on it over and above the weight of the island. We aim for 2-5 lbs per sq ft of reserve buoyancy in smaller islands, 12 lbs per sq ft in island modules.

Riparian: The assortment of riparian zone plants varies from those of wetlands and typically consists of plants that either are emergent aquatic plants, or herbs, trees and shrubs that thrive in proximity to water.

Vadose zone: The vadose zone is the damp portion of earth above the waterline (saturated zone) and below the surface. On land, water in the vadose zone has a pressure head less than atmospheric pressure and is retained by a combination of adhesion and capillary action. On some large natural floating islands, the vadose zone extends well below the water line: in other words, where you’d expect to find saturated soil, there is a dry zone, even below the water-line. What this means for floating island technology is that – potentially – all kinds of terrestrial plants could grow in this zone, even on salt water.

Water wicking: The ability of water to be drawn upwards by capillary action. BioMix achieves water wicking of up to 7 inches.

Wetland mitigation banking: This is a program administered by the US Army Corps of Engineers, where for every area of wetland which is lost to development; credits must be earned by creating or restoring equivalent wetland areas. Floating islands potentially have a major part to play in wetland creation and restoration. Around lakes and ponds, the land exposed when the water-level is low is unproductive. This can be compensated for with floating islands, which provide a durable and flexible solution.

Wetland Mitigation Banking requires any wetlands which are altered or destroyed to be re-created or restored elsewhere. Developers can gain maximum credits by creating new wetlands. Floating islands are an ideal solution, given their zero-land accommodation, and the high BMQ relative to the equivalent acreage of wetland.

Wicking channels: The small, round holes that come in Sod and Sod/Pocket BioHavens are wicking channels. Packed tightly with BioMix, their purpose is to draw up (wick) water up to the roots of the sod planted over them. Plants can also be planted in wicking channels. See also “Planting Pockets”.

Worm castings: This is a by-product of vermiculture: in other words, worm poop, which makes an excellent, organic, chemical-free fertilizer, recommended for use on BioHavens (in a 15 – 20% blend with BioMix).

Zero-land accomodation: A very significant feature of floating islands is their ability to create wetlands without taking up any existing land.