In our previous article about the River Wey Trust we concentrated on the important work we do in water quality, and the vital role volunteers have. That continues, with more people of all ages joining our citizen science programme, encouraging wider understanding and engagement.
Another facet of the trust’s work is providing information and sharing knowledge. The history of the river and its impact on the area is fascinating, whether it is the story of the many mills which used the waters to power iron works, paper mills, flour mills; or understanding how the landscape was manipulated in past times to allow water meadows with their complex irrigation systems to provide increased yield and multiple cropping opportunities – all without artificial fertiliser or much mechanical equipment.
We have information boards on sections of the river at Liphook in Radford Park, at Bramshott, and Passfield, and are working to develop more of these, supported by the pages of background and description on the trust’s website where you can explore the river’s features.
Understanding the history is fascinating for some, but we also support local schools with current knowledge in their river studies topics.
Using an Augmented Reality Sandbox in classroom sessions, we can demonstrate how rivers and landscape topography interact, and how small changes in a river course can have significant impact downstream.
The sandbox aids understanding and seeing how leaky dams manage water flow, how channelling disrupts natural water management... not forgetting the standard textbook learning of how meanders, ox-bow lakes, estuaries, deltas, etc, work in a real-time interactive model.
Of course, we do talk about the problems facing us with water management. Year 4 and 5 school classes tend to be far more clued up and understanding of the problems and challenges of a balanced ecology than perhaps is apparent from those in government and commercial operations.
Helping grasp that with a view of how rivers can be used productively and “managed” sympathetically is fundamental to providing long-term solutions for a sustainable environment.