London Rivers Week returns

London Rivers Week 2022 (11-17 July 2022) is an annual campaign inspiring people to celebrate London’s rivers and the many projects taking place to renaturalise or re-wild them. While access to nature and climate resilience remain core themes, this year’s event will also focus on the ‘natural recovery’ of London’s rivers and wetlands.

“Rivers are stark indicators of the impacts of climate change,” says Liz Gyekye, Communications Manager for Thames 21, explaining how healthy rivers can help build resilience to climate change across the entire landscape. “London’s rivers need to be made sustainable if they are to cope with the negative impacts of climate change and to protect the wildlife that lives within them.”

River restoration, or rewilding, is the process of managing rivers (or canals and streams) to reinstate their natural processes and restore their biodiversity. This might involve simple actions such as removing concrete and metal to create more natural riverbanks, adding woody material to a river or giving rivers space to flood into adjacent water meadows to create wetlands and encourage wildlife. More ambitious aims include bringing buried rivers back into the light – a process known as ‘daylighting’.

“The wildlife we see around us tells a story about our relationship with nature: the successes and failures, and what is being done to improve things across our rivers and wetlands,” says Liz. “London Rivers Week 2022 will shine a light on these stories and facilitate discussion on what is needed to bring nature back to London.”

Art, conservation and river rituals

This year, there will be free events (although you need to register) running throughout the week of 11-17 July. “The aim is to connect communities with their local rivers,” says Liz. “From virtual swimming lessons, meandering river walks to pond dipping and dog walking, we want to celebrate London’s blue spaces.”

Highlights include an art exhibition celebrating the beauty of water in leafy Barnes; a balsam bashing session along the Hogsmill River (donning waders to remove Himalayan Balsam, an invasive plant that competes with native species and causes bank erosion); conversations with leading thinkers on London’s rivers and a special tribute to the river goddess Mama Osun. Outdoor Swimmer founder, Simon Griffiths, will also be hosting a webinar on how to swim safely in the Thames.

To inspire participants before and during the event, the London Rivers Week team has compiled an interactive map, showing completed river restoration sites plus

144 new opportunities for further river restorations. In total, the map highlights more than 36km of waterways that could be restored, supporting the creation of new wild spaces and bringing wildlife into the heart of the city.

Get involved in the many free walks, talks, river clean-ups and open webinars by registering on the London Rivers Week 2022 event page here.

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