OzGREEN programs connect youth with communities to become leaders of innovative sustainable social change

Want to join in The Count? Bellingen Riverwatch tests for waterbugs this September

Last month 30 Bellingen Riverwatch (BR) volunteers and partners gathered to examine and identify the tiny creatures that live in our waterways. Why? Because the waterbugs found in our rivers are a direct indicator of environmental impact - if they change over time, then some difference in the environment has caused that change.

This event was part of a new Macroinvertebrate Monitoring program launched in June - one of the largest of its kind in the country. The data is hoped to be collected twice a year and extend well into the future, to build a clear picture of how our waterways are changing over time. Program Manager, Amy Denshire, says:

“We are looking long-term with this program and are seeking funding partners to support this to happen. We’re hoping to build the skills and knowledge in community members, and for these citizen scientists to form the pillars of the program.”

The data from the sites tested last month is now being collated by the team at the National Waterbug Blitz and is planned to form part of a presentation, ‘Can citizen science inform science?’ Evaluating results of the Bellingen Riverwatch citizen science program and a parallel government monitoring program’ by BR partners at the International River Symposium on September 28.

The BR macroinvertebrate testing program is planned to take place in May and September of each year with the next round on the 15th and 16th September. “The testing is very complex and involved and requires a lot of concentration”, says Amy. “But despite this intensity, it is very fun!” 

“It was great to gain experience doing the sampling, sorting and identifying. It is a real privilege to be a part of a citizen science team that comes together, learns together and is incredibly dedicated to the health of our precious waterways.

- BR volunteer, Kathleen.

“This is such a great program! It offers a tangible way for people to give back to nature, in a fun and accessible way. Not only will you get to learn about the fascinating little creatures inhabiting the river, but you will have the chance to make new friends and feel more connected to your local community.” 

- Sarah Maclagan, Local Land Services

The Bellingen Rivewatch Macroinvertebrate Monitoring Program is supported by the NSW Department of Planning Industry and Environment and it’s Saving our Species program, the Australian Government’s Bushfire Recovery Program for wildlife and their habitat, Local Land Services, Bellingen Shire Council, EnviroComm Connections Pty Ltd, National Waterbug Blitz, NSW Waterwatch, OzGREEN, Bellinger Landcare and Project Checkpoint. 

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please contact Program Coordinator, Amy Denshire on [email protected].