Founder of @outsidewithliraSpeaker website
Lira Valencia, daughter of South- American refugees who fled to the UK in the 70s, is an urban environmentalist and wildlife influencer from South London, Croydon. She currently works as a London Wildlife Trust ranger for Europe’s largest urban wetlands, Walthamstow Wetlands.
Growing up fascinated by the natural world, Lira decided from a young age that she wanted to work in the environmental sector and started her career by studying a Zoology degree at the University of Reading.
Whilst studying, Lira became aware of the many barriers entering the environmental sector, especially for those coming from low-socioeconomic backgrounds. It was the first time Lira realised the massive lack of diversity and the effects lack of representation has on one’s confidence and willingness to get involved in the environmental movement.
After years of feeling like she didn’t belong in the sector, she created an Instagram account, @outsidewithlira, where she documented her wildlife encounters and spoke on her struggles of pursuing a career in a field she was deeply passionate about. Her Instagram slowly gained interest with @outsidewithlira now having 30k+ followers and giving Lira the opportunity to spread her story on platforms such as BBC London Radio and The One Show BBC. Around this time, she also co-founded a Croydon-based community garden @soulfoodgardenn which provides locals with free produce and a safe space to connect with others and nature. Both accounts have seen the likes from RSPB, WWF, National Trust, Forestryengland, WildlifeTrust, and well-known gardening influencers such as @poppyokotcha and @GazOakly.
Throughout all of Liras work, she aims to influence urban communities to seek, respect and protect nature through a refreshing, fun and relatable approach. She sees the importance of urban communities being connected to nature and works towards having their faces and voices represented in a sector that often forgets about them.