London's Lost Rivers to be Restored

cornmill gardens channel photo

image from LRAP

We all know about the Thames--the ancient river flowing through the heart of London. But there are many more "lost rivers" which have been built over, buried , covered or turned into concrete channels throughout the years. London has lost over 70% of its river network this way. Only the place names remain: the Fleet, the Effra, the Wandle, and the Strand.

Under a new project, the London Rivers Action Plan, 9.3 miles of the city's rivers will be restored to a natural state in the next six years. Of the the 14 waterways to be reclaimed, seven have been buried. Others have been made into channels, originally built to combat flooding. It is hoped that wildlife such as kingfishers, otters and voles will then return to the city shores as well.

sutcliffe-park success photo

image from LRAP

The goal is to uncover and restore many more in future years. As one Agency member said "It took 50 years to destroy a lot of the value of the rivers in London - it's going to take another 50 years to get it back." Some of the rivers are buried, others have high fences hiding them or are so barren that they are just concrete drain channels. Many of the new projects will incorporate better flood defences as a result of climate changes.

Since the mid 1980's efforts have been ongoing to restore some rivers in the outskirts of London: 14 miles of London's rivers have been restored over the past 15 years. One example (pictured) is in southeast London, where a section of the River Quaggy has been brought out of its underground culvert and made into a landscaped park. Now the river is visible, for all to enjoy, and much wildlife has returned, including several types of dragon flies. The London Rivers Action Plan Via : The Guardian
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