The fleeting glimpse of a kingfisher fluttering through the water has become more common in London over the past two decades thanks to ongoing efforts to rebuild the city’s waterways.
That’s according to a report by the Catchment Partnerships in London Group (CPiL), which manages the city’s rivers. It found that blue and orange bird sightings have risen 450 percent since 2000, compared to the previous 20 years.
Two inner-city districts that have seen major river restoration projects, Lewisham and Tower Hamlets, showed large increases in kingfisher sightings. Lewisham recorded only 27 bird sightings between 1980 and 2000, but reported 209 in the next two decades. Tower Hamlets, meanwhile, recorded 11 kingfisher sightings prior to 2000, but 130 since then.
Daubenton’s gray bats and wagtails have also been sighted in greater numbers along the capital’s waterways, according to CPiL, which states that London’s river improvement programs promote social inclusion because they occur in high-rise areas. and low income.
“These churning rivers have not only made it easier for key wildlife species to live here, they have also made it easier for people,” said David Webb of CPiL, speaking in 2020. “This year’s close demonstrated how important it is that it is for public health that people have access to nature; rebuilding rivers is an affordable way to bring high-quality blue-green space to urbanized areas. “
London has roughly 400 miles of waterways, three-quarters of which are lined underground in concrete and metal pipes. Since 2000, more than 20 miles have been restored. CPiL wants the pace to increase to three miles per year to meet the goal of restoring a third of London’s rivers by 2050.
“London’s rivers are an important indicator of the city’s environmental health,” said Shirley Rodrigues, Deputy Mayor for Environment and Energy at the Greater London Authority. “While there is a long way to go to clean up and make all of London’s rivers rich with wildlife, it is great to see progress being made to restore and regenerate our rivers.”
Lead Image: Usman Yousaf