Why Bellingen Riverwatch?
It is difficult to describe the extent of the concern our community felt for our river in 2015, when we lost an estimated 90% of our beautiful turtles in an approximate 6-week period. Bellingen Riverwatch has empowered our community to transform their concern into dedicated, constructive action. In turn, we have witnessed a positive change in our local community, which will ultimately contribute to a healthy river system.
However, the situation remains critical for the Bellinger River Snapping Turtle (BRST). The virus responsible for mass turtle deaths left predominantly juveniles in our river system. The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage is working hard with its partners to release turtles from the captive breeding program at Taronga Zoo back into the Bellinger River. This is in a trial phase while the Department of Primary Industries work on resolving questions about the virus that impacted the turtles.
Alteration to water quality is identified as a threat to the BRST (see Blamires & Spencer 2013, NSW Scientific Committee 2016). The diet of the BRST includes aquatic vegetation and aquatic macroinvertebrates and these are both linked to water quality (Allanson and Georges 1999). Changes in water quality can further impact this species because habitat preferences relate to water quality (aquatic vegetation) and physical attributes of waterholes (substrate) (Spencer et al. 2007).
There is a need for ongoing monitoring of river condition to support virus research and potential disease triggers. Data from Bellingen Riverwatch gives us an indication of overall river health. It can assist in prioritising sites for more intensive sampling or refine management actions to improve water quality. This includes targeted riparian revegetation and other associated actions that are aimed at improving the river’s water quality.
Donate to Bellingen Riverwatch
Firstly, we need to support water quality monitoring into the future.
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.
Make a Regular or One-Time Gift
Sustaining a highly functioning community project such as this requires adequate on-ground scientific and administrative support to ensure that our volunteers are well trained and equipped, our data is well communicated and our partnerships are nurtured. Make a regular or one-time gift to support this program into the future.
Please help us continue this unique program by donating $25, $50, $100, or whatever you can afford this end of financial year.
If you would like to make even more of an impact you could also consider becoming a regular donor. You will be helping to the core funding that will continue this fantastic citizen science program. Even as little as $5 or $10 per month is so helpful for our project sustainability.
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts because we simply can't do it without you.
Oz Green-Global Rivers Environmental Education Network (Australia) Incorporated is registered as a charity with the AustralianCharities and Not-for-profits Commission ABN 82 828 395 461.