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Teaching the teachers about dangers of river pollution

Helen Robinson is an Education Officer at the New Forest National Park Authority.

Earlier this month we hosted teachers from across Hampshire in the New Forest to learn about river pollution and how to educate the next generation about the damage it causes.

The visit involved a mixture of expert talks, practical surveying and water testing.

Over 20 staff and members from Hampshire Geographical Association attended the event at Hatchet Pond near Beaulieu, to hear from local experts about how research into river pollution in the National Park could inspire students.

Many of the water bodies and streams of the New Forest are in ‘good’ condition, but ecologists working in the National Park are keen to improve these rating to ‘high’, in keeping with the area’s sensitivity and to encourage more wildlife and plant life to flourish.

Dr Naomi Ewald from the Freshwater Habitats Trust shared with us the trials and tribulations of collecting and analysing the nitrate and phosphate levels from the many tiny streams in the area. We also tried out different methods of testing phosphate levels in the field using simple ready prepared reagants.  

We then heard from Julie Melin-Stubbs (below) from the New Forest Land Advice Service, who showed us how data showing local peaks and troughs in nitrate and phosphate levels can encourage local people to change how they manage their land to reduce their impact on waterways.

After taking part in the water quality testing process, the teachers were keen to share their imaginative ideas of how they might use this information in the classroom. Ideas included collecting data from local streams, field visits to the New Forest, extended projects for gifted and talented students and even cross-curricular trips with environmental studies and biology departments.

Everyone went home with a teacher’s pack, data sets to support lessons, the opportunity to try out phosphate sampling equipment with their own students and hopefully a fresh perspective on managing water pollution in the New Forest.

To find out more about how the New Forest could inspire children in your school, contact Education Officer Helen Robinson at

This entry was posted by Communications on Thursday 16/10/2014


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