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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

Geography award success at the New Forest Show

Published: 27 July 2016
Children explore the river sandbox
Children exploring the interactive river sandbox

Geography and Environment at the University of Southampton, in collaboration with the Forestry Commission, the British Society for Geomorphology and the universities of Brighton and Hull have won the Maldwin Drummond Challenge Cup for best Trade Stand at the New Forest and Hampshire County Show for their exhibition demonstrating how Forestry Commission programmes are helping to restore and support the area’s natural habitats.

Taking place over three days the New Forest and Hampshire County Show is an annual agricultural show held in Brockenhurst, Hampshire. Celebrating a range of countryside activities, crafts, produce and entertainment around 95,000 visitors attend each year.

The Forestry Commission’s High Level Stewardship (HLS) programmes are restoring some of the New Forest’s rivers back to a natural, meandering state. This involves re-introducing meanders and slowing the flow of the water through the Forest by using the floodplain to its full potential.

The exhibit is a hands-on scaled version of these initiatives. It is a sandbox where the shape of the river can be controlled along with the flow of water through it. The table can be set in any configuration to demonstrate to the public how and why rivers meander, what changing their course means for flood risk, and how restoring rivers back to a meandering course benefits habitats, ecology, fisheries and people.

Dr Chris Hackney, from Geography and Environment and part of the stand team, is delighted:

“We were delighted to be asked by the Forestry Commission to help demonstrate and inform the public about the ongoing restoration projects in the New Forest. The interactivity of the stand is fantastic for engaging the next generation of the New Forest community and foster potential scientists. It's a testament to all involved in the stand that we have been awarded the Best Trade Stand and an honour to be awarded this by the Countess of Wessex. The Countess was highly informed and showed real enthusiasm and support of the restoration activities within the New Forest.”

The stand is located in the Forestry Commission’s forest enclosure at the Show. Geography and Environment at Southampton have been involved in previous river restoration projects in the New Forest, at sites such as the Highland Water and Black Water.

River restoration and management is a key part of the department’s educational offering and runs through our programmes. The department boasts a number of leading river experts - learn more about our courses and speak directly to our academics at our upcoming Open Days this September.


The team explaining how the river sandbox works
The team explaining how the river sandbox works
The Countess of Wessex presenting the award
The Countess of Wessex presenting the award
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