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shopping trolley reef

On the way across the bridge today, I spotted a shopping trolley in the river. The water was goose-turd green, angry and high. We're on flood warning, and the Thames is fast and brutally cold at the moment. A human would be foolhardy to venture into that mess to fish it out. So there it stays, for a while, becoming part of the river.

Which brought the thought that it would rapidly be colonised by fish and weeds and riverine invertebrates. By the time it was removed, it would be sheltering species, well on its way to becoming its own tiny ecosystem.

I'm not the first person to think such things; meet the Bath Marine Preservation Society's Trolly Reef, and follow on down the comments for the eerily beautiful Original Abandoned Shopping Trolley Project.

All of which leads me to wonder how much of conservation is about returning an area to an idea of appropriate wildness. The plants and animals don't especially care, they will happily grow through concrete, tarmac, old bikes and shopping trolleys. You could argue about rust, broken glass, sharp edges but moss and murk will happily cover all of that, given time. And the wildlife would probably appreciate being left in peace.

Comments

( 6 worms — Feed the birds )
ingaborg
31st Dec, 2009 19:04 (UTC)
Yeah, I know what you mean, but in the canal or river they are blocking navigation, and any waterway with flow probably needs to be kept clear to help avoid flooding. They might be good in a wetland.
cleanskies
31st Dec, 2009 20:08 (UTC)
It was on the shallow bank outside the Riverside Centre, so I expect the kayak kids will deal with it soon enough.
uitlander
31st Dec, 2009 22:43 (UTC)
Its an interesting POV. At what point does the rubbish midden of abandoned trolleys become an archaeological site - conventional wisodm suggests ~100 years, by which point you should have a good reef up and running.

BTW, you have read Verdigris Deep haven't you? The trolleys have a special place in that.
cleanskies
1st Jan, 2010 11:19 (UTC)
100 years of shopping trolleys
That'd make quite a reef. Yes, Verdigris Deep is truly excellent book. Happy New Year!
thegreenman
1st Jan, 2010 17:51 (UTC)
how much of conservation is about returning an area to an idea of appropriate wildness

Yeah. I've often wondered about this. People can be very precious about preserving the "special nature" of the Scottish Highlands/Welsh Uplands/The Fens etc etc while rather missing the point that most of these landscapes are entirely man-made by our ancestors.

Most of Britain, if left alone, reverts via scub to mixed forest eventually (and that's what it started off as....)
cleanskies
1st Jan, 2010 23:19 (UTC)
looking at some conservation society's report
About a volunteer day which had lead to a couple of bikes and a shopping trolley beeing removed from a stretch of woodland, I found myself wondering what the wildlife (plant and animal) would prefer -- rubbish and no disturbance, or disturbance, but no rubbish.

But the UK is as you point out a heavily human-managed environment. Possibly our wildlife is now dependent on our landscape management, and sees the disturbance as only a little more inconvenient than the weather.
( 6 worms — Feed the birds )