A charity is dedicating its efforts to the restoration of some 40 rivers around London, England’s capital, with projects destined to revitalize, clean, and return to the light some buried rivers, benefiting the environment and the population.
“London should really be one massive wetland – a salt marsh on an estuary,” explains Will Oliver, a development manager at Thames21, a charity helping guide 40-plus river restorations. When London boomed, waterways were encased by walls, turned into backwaters, or covered by busy streets.
Restoration projects are going strong, including Wildlife Gardeners of Haggerston whose goal is to revitalize the Old Lea River at Hackney Marshes in east London and Kingsland Basin Nature Reserve in Hackney where the planting of reeds serves as a way to clean the river by drawing pollutants like phosphates into their roots. By creating – or rediscovering – new wetlands, flood risks across London are lessened. School children now visit restored banks and new wetlands as a hands-on, feet-wet educational tool. Since 2000, 45 km of rivers have been restored, and a larger target has been fixed with the restoration and rewilding of 5 km of waterways each year, leading to the restoration of one-third of London’s 640 km of waterways by 2050.