8. Bring in nature


A living river also needs grasses, shrubs, trees and animals such as fish and birds to be a complete ecosystem. By maintaining and improving habitats for our iconic species, especially our five mascots, we can bring nature back to the river. Doing so means understanding current habitat health, establishing foreshore improvement programs and calling on citizen science to help track progress.

The diverse natural environment of the Parramatta River catchment can be categorised into four broad ecosystems that support the habitat of our five mascot species:

  • Terrestrial – the land areas across the catchment; habitats include forests, woodlands and bushland pockets.
  • Riparian – the riparian zone is the transition zone from terrestrial to river; habitats include river and creek banks and floodplains.
  • Freshwater – the tidal impact is limited by the weirs, upstream the Parramatta River system is fresh water; habitats include the numerous small creeks and tributaries across the catchment that flow into the river.
  • Estuarine – the Parramatta River is tidal below Charles St Weir at Parramatta. Habitats include saltmarsh, wetlands, mudflats, mangroves and bays, and the upper harbour itself.

Species were selected as potentially iconic expressions of these natural systems and the ecological benefits they provide to people living in the catchment. Following a desktop review of local community groups and threatened species records, 19 species were shortlisted and put up for public vote. The following five animals were chosen as our iconic mascots:

  • Bar-tailed Godwit
  • Eastern Long-necked Turtle
  • Powerful Owl
  • Southern Myotis
  • Striped Marsh Frog

Learn more about our iconic mascots.


Maintain, improve and create new habitats for the Parramatta River catchment’s five iconic species mascots as indicators of water quality and catchment health.



Lead Agency

Parramatta River Catchment Group.

Current Measure

Undertake recommendations from the Ecological Health Project Report as outlined in the summary work plan.

View the Ecological Health Recommendations Work Plan.

Status Update

  • Develop and promote Citizen Science app for all Parramatta River iconic species.
  • Map the presence of hollow bearing trees in the catchment.
  • Encourage strategic installation of manmade hollows.
  • Work with councils, agencies and community to identify areas to provide dense riparian vegetation.
  • Map current wetlands.
  • Work with councils, agencies and the community to identify areas suitable for new offline wetlands.
  • Identify opportunities for signage and education materials to protect mudflats and Bar-tailed Godwits habitat.

Progress Timeline

July – October 2021

  • Riverfest 2021 was held as an online event from 15-24 October, offering more than 20 diverse webinars, talks and children’s story time sessions on local wildlife and aspects of waterway and catchment health.
  • Parramatta River Citizen Science app for Iconic species being tested with council staff.
  • PRCG supported Carnarvon Golf Club in obtaining a grant to install floating wetlands in their dam.
April – June 2021

  • A webinar on the impacts of sediment runoff on waterway health and marine life, prepared by Georges Riverkeeper Ecologist, was held for all partner councils and catchment groups prior to the Get the Site Right campaign in May.
  • A Biodiversity and Education Subcommittee meeting was held on 19 May 2021. Blacktown City Council presented on the prioritisation of sub-catchments in the Blacktown local government area. EarthWatch Australia talked about a proposal to run the Swarovski Waterschool global water education program in 15 primary schools across the Parramatta River catchment.
  • The Greater Sydney Harbour Coastal Management Plan project team held a webinar regarding the proposed Stage 2 Coastal and Estuaries planning grant. The grant application was supported by 20 councils and will be submitted in July 2021.
January – March 2021

  • Biodiversity and Education Sub-committee met.
  • Webinar on ‘World Wetlands Day’.
  • The PRCG purchased a litter vacuum cleaner to remove styrofoam and other small, lightweight items more easily at community clean-up events. ‘ORC’ (Our River Cleaner) was launched and demonstrated at several events during Clean Up Australia Day in March. The Maritime Services Environmental team also trialled the vacuum for use on the high tide mark and in areas that are difficult to access by boat.
October – December 2020

  • PRCG partnered with Local Land Services (LLS) and Cumberland City Council to hold Rapid Assessment of Riparian training on 21 November with LLS coordinators, council staff and volunteers.
  • A Biodiversity and Education Subcommittee meeting was held on 16 September with presentations on Step 4, riparian corridors and the Citizen Science app Masters student project.
July – September 2020

  • A Biodiversity Subcommittee meeting was held.
  • A Citizen Science app is being developed by a Macquarie University masters student and will be presented at the next Biodiversity Subcommittee meeting.
April – June 2020

  • A Citizen Science app is being developed by a Macquarie University masters student in partnership with PRCG and DPIE Environmental Science.
January – March 2020

  • Attended the Murama Healing Space event 14 March 2020.
  • Riverkeeper position vacant and reviewed. Position extended to four days per week and approved by Full-Group (recruitment suspended due to COVID-19 pandemic).
  • Biodiversity subcommittee postponed due to Riverkeeper position vacancy.
October – December 2019

  • Ecological Health Survey distributed to all members and reported back to officers meeting.
  • Biodiversity Subcommittee to be reformed in early 2020 as a working group to establish Workplan (postponed due to COVID-19 and Riverkeeper vacancy).
July – September 2019

  • PRCG presence at National Tree Day events at Canterbury Bankstown and Strathfield Councils.
  • Attended NSW Powerful Owls research update.
  • Attended 202020 Vision Roadshow on urban tree canopies.
April – June 2019

  • Strategic plan under development for Citizen Science program.
  • 1 Million Turtles and Living Seawall projects progressed.

Useful Links