Lost Effra – an urban success story

A Lambeth community, guided by the London Wildlife Trust, is using rewilding techniques to create rain gardens’ – breathing new life into the environment and easing the pressure of flooding.

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One of the core principles of rewilding is to involve local people in projects. Which is exactly what’s been happening with Lost Effra, an inspiring urban initiative led by the London Wildlife Trust.

Lost Effra empowers communities to create features such as green roofs, wildlife space and rain gardens that replace hard paving.

Where does the project’s name come from? The culverted river Effra is one of London’s lost rivers, running beneath a highly urbanised area of South London. The area is vulnerable to flooding in heavy rain.

What are rain gardens? A simple but brilliant idea. These are specially created and planted areas that capture diverted water. The Lost Effra rain gardens are spread over a 30-metre green corridor on the Cressingham Gardens estate near Brockwell Park in Lambeth.

How do they work? Rainwater from the roof of a large residential building is channelled through downpipes into three connected gardens, rather than being sent running downhill into the Brixton flood-risk area. When it rains, water is held in the gardens before being taken up by plants and naturally soaking into the ground. This has the added benefit of helping to clean the water as the plants act as a filtering system.

Sounds good for wildlife It is. Nectar-rich native plants attract wildlife, particulary bees and other pollinators.

The Rewilding Britain flood report

To find out more about this great work and a host of other projects, download the Rewilding Britain flood-risk report. It’s an in-depth study on how natural flood management is repairing and revitalising our broken ecosystems while limiting the effects of flooding on long-suffering communities.

London Wildlife Trust is the only charity dedicated solely to protecting the capital’s wildlife and wild spaces, engaging London’s diverse communities through access to nature reserves, campaigning, volunteering and education.