Intaka Island introduces new exhibits

The aquaphonics system allows vegetables to be grown without using soil.

Intaka Island, the wetlands and bird sanctuary in the heart of Century City, has added two new exhibits to its eco-centre.

An aquaphonics system and a wind turbine have been installed at the 16 hectare nature reserve, which is home to 120 bird species and 177 species of indigenous fynbos plants.

The rooftop aquaphonics system, which helps plants and fish grow together, was designed and built by water-quality specialist Louis-Gillis Janse van Rensburg.

It comprises two tanks – one holding 1000 litres of water filled with fish (about 40kg of tilapia to be added in the weeks to come) and the other with shallow water, pebbles and plant floaters. Parsley, celery, and mint will be grown.

Alan Liebenberg, Century City’s environmental officer, said the structure was a way of “biomimicking nature”.

“Nutrient-rich water from the fish tank flows into the other tank where the plants strip out the nutrients and polish the water before it is pumped back into the fish tank. As such, it mimics a natural wetland system,” said Mr Liebenberg.

The wind turbine at the entrance of Intaka Island will generate clean energy, which Mr Liebenberg hopes will help the reserve achieve its long-term goal of being “completely off the grid”.

According to Mr Liebenberg, only five percent of Intaka’s electricity comes from the national grid.

In its push to become as eco-friendly as possible, Intaka is also using solar panels, LED lighting, rainwater harvesting and grey water, among other green initiatives.

The eco-centre hosts school groups as well as the general public. Mr Liebenberg said almost every day on the school calendar had been booked.

“To meet the increased demand, we are now often hosting more than one group at a time, but it has become necessary to book well in advance to avoid disappointment. Many of the schools have made this an annual outing and book from one year to another to secure their space,” he said.

Bird hides and ferry trips around the island give bird watchers and nature lovers the chance to capture unique moments with their cameras, and visitors can savour the smell of fynbos along a 2km footpath.

* Visit www.intaka.co.za for more information.