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Published: 2007-12-20 00:00:00

Environment Waikato is funding research into plants that could be used to clean up the region’s freshwater lakes.

It has granted $3611 to science consultant Aareka Hopkins to grow two different charophyte species in artificial ponds over 12 months.

Charophytes are highly developed macro-algae that grow mainly in alkaline, freshwater lakes and ponds. They bind to bottom sediments, helping to prevent mud and soil particles being stirred up by wind.

They are currently in huge demand for lake restoration projects, but natural sources of them are limited.

Mr Hopkins aims to take naturally occurring plants and raise them in two “nursery” ponds at Hamilton Zoo, monitoring their impact on water quality.

He hopes to find out whether they can successfully be grown in artificial ponds and his study will make recommendations on how this can best be done.

“This is a relatively small grant to fund what could be hugely important research,” Environment Committee chairman Jane Hennebry said.

Mr Hopkins, who studied the plants for his MSc, is undertaking the research on a not-for-profit basis.

Environment Waikato’s lakes restoration programme will contribute further funding to the project to cover reporting and equipment costs.