Thank you event for Bellingen Riverwatch Volunteers at the Bellingen Community Markets

Bellingen Riverwatch volunteers are being celebrated on July 17 at the Bellingen Community Markets.

 

OVER 40 Bellingen Riverwatch volunteers work together to test 30 sites of the Bellinger and Kalang catchments each and every month.

This includes testing through the 2019/20 emergency bushfire period, after recent floods, and in the cold winter months.

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Head down to the Main Stage at the Bellingen Community Markets on July 17 at 11:00am to thank the Bellingen Riverwatch volunteers for their incredible commitment to testing our waterways each and every month, and especially during the 2019/2020 bushfire emergency period.

This event coincides with Bellingen Riverwatch turning five – an achievement made possible by the dedication of the group’s community’s citizen scientists.

During November and December 2019 Bellingen Riverwatch volunteers continued to monitor water quality at 30 sites across the Bellinger and Kalang catchments in extremely difficult conditions, including very high temperatures and thick heavy smoke.

The Bellingen Riverwatch group commenced activity following a turtle mortality event in early 2015 which saw an estimated 90 percent of the Bellingen River Snapping Turtle population die within six weeks.

A successful turtle breeding program is now happening at Taronga Zoo Sydney and Symbio Wildlife Park and 52 captively bred turtles have been successfully released back into the wild by the NSW Government Saving Our Species team.

“We’re happy to report that the turtles that have been released are tracking well,” said Shane Ruming, Ecologist, Department Planning Industry and Environment.

To help build a picture of a catchments’ health, ongoing and regular monitoring of water quality is required to build what’s called ‘baseline data’ – a long-term picture of what’s considered normal conditions for that particular waterway.

This baseline information is important for river health and the future of the turtles, as the more we know about the river the better informed we are regarding what to do next.

The program has grown to become the largest water quality monitoring program in NSW and one of the largest macroinvertebrate monitoring programs in Australia and now has five years of water quality baseline data.

“Good data collection is at the core of good science so it is fundamental that we collect as much as possible,” said Bellingen Riverwatch volunteer and Scientist, Cassandra Vockler.

“I’ve always loved science and the positive changes it can make to our worlds.

“Rivers and their health are a vital part of our local ecosystem so it’s critical we care for them,” said Henare Degan, Bellingen Riverwatch volunteer.

“Acknowledgement of volunteers is a fundamental part of what helps keep citizen science programs strong and thriving”, said Program Coordinator, Amy Denshire, OzGREEN.

“Events like these are hugely important – I’d like to thank the Bellingen Shire Council for making this event possible and the Commonwealth Bushfire Recovery fund for Wildlife and their Habitat for funding Bellingen Riverwatch to continue until June 2022.”

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