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 man-made 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

December 2023 to February 2024

Landcare grant funding 2023-2027: outcome of the submission expected by January 2023.

Parramatta River Landcare Group Network: Established in December. Chaired by the Habitat Network (based in the City of Ryde) and comprising local environmental organisations, the group aims to build capacity, increase volunteers, and strengthen ties with our member councils. Group will also support the Local Land Coordinator/Riverkeeper to deliver the Riverkeeper program.

September to November 2023

Landcare NSW: funding was extended to October 2023 to cover the submission period for the next round of funding for 2023-2027. This will enable delivery on environmental health and citizen science programs and activities for the catchment plan.

June to August 2023

  • Developed a 2023 citizen science program of action in partnership with member of the Biodiversity and Education Subcommittee.
  • Friends of Toongabbie Creek and PRCG organised a citizen science activity on Sunday, 19 February. Dr Ricky Spencer, Western Sydney University, led a field excursion to meet the eastern long-necked turtle, one of the Parramatta River’s iconic species found in Toongabbie Creek.
  • City of Canada Bay and PRCG organised a citizen science bus tour of Coastal Saltmarsh with presenters Kylie Burrows and Ju’eta Amir from City of Canada Bay followed by a presentation by Swapan Paul of Sydney Olympic Park Authority. Participants were very engaged and highly motivated.
  • Biodiversity and Education Subcommittee: held on 29 August. Focus will be on Parramatta River Bank Naturalisation funding grant, Landcare program and Riverfest.


March – May 2023

  • Landcare NSW:
    • Turlough Guerin, CEO of Landcare NSW, presented at the Full Group meeting.
    • PRCG team participated in strategic planning sessions for the future Landcare NSW direction as part of preparations for the next tranche of program funding.
  • Riverkeeper Program:
    • Stall promoting PRCG mission at Seven Hills community fair in partnership with Blacktown City Council (18 March).
    • Sustainable Saturday at Concord organised by City of Canada Bay Council (1 April).
  • Citizen Science:
    • Bus tour of Parramatta River Coastal Saltmarsh, organised by City of Canada Bay and PRCG. Presenters included Kylie Burrows and Ju’eta Amir from City of Canada Bay followed by Swapan Paul from Sydney Olympic Park Authority (6 May).
    • City of Parramatta Bushcare program hosted citizen science session on microbats (28 April).
December 2022 – February 2023

  • Landcare NSW – Local Land Services (LLS)/Landcare funding:
    • Four-year grant ($215,660) is funded by NSW State Government Local Land Services (LLS) through Landcare NSW. Riverkeeper’s position is 60% funded through the grant and is considered to be a Local Landcare Coordinator.
    • Grant concludes in June 2023 with final reports due in May. Landcare NSW is advocating for an increase to the four-year tranche of funding that is likely to commence this year.
    • Turlough Guerin, CEO of Landcare NSW, has been invited to present at the Full Group meeting in March.
  • Biodiversity and Education Subcommittee:
    • Meeting held in person on 21 February, hosted by Hunter’s Hill Council.
    • Focus areas: citizen science activities and events that encourage monitoring and reporting of iconic species and habitat condition; mapping of habitats and wildlife corridors; educational opportunities for member council staff and volunteers to increase community engagement.
  • Citizen Science: Friends of Toongabbie Creek and PRCG organised a citizen science turtle field excursion along Toongabbie Creek, led by Dr Ricky Spencer, Western Sydney University. (19 February).
September – November 2022

  • Landcare NSW:
    • Landcare mini grant funds will be spent on providing nest boxes for councils and community organisations, including workshops on Citizen Science apps.
    • Riverkeeper attended the Greater Sydney Landcare network AGM (18 September 2022).
    • Riverkeeper attended the Local Government Biodiversity Network meeting.
  • Riverkeeper Program:
    • Wentworth Point Environment Group Planning Meeting (7 September 2022)
    • Sydney Olympic Park Youth Eco Summit (16 & 17 November 2022 at the Newington Armory and Murama Healing Space. The PRCG interacted with approximately 900 students. Taylor Gallagher of Blacktown Council attended one day, and volunteer Gina Plumpton assisted with presentations to the students.
    • PRCG hosted an information stall at the Bayview Park swim site launch on 13 November 2022.
June – August 2022

  • Landcare NSW: PRCG team co-hosted and participated in the Greater Sydney Landcare Network gathering for bushcare and land care volunteers and staff held at The Connection, Rhodes (3 July).
  • Biodiversity and Education Subcommittee: Meeting held on 16 August with a focus on citizen science and how to use the resultant data with two guest speakers – Dr Joanna Haddock, Senior Threatened Species Officer – Biodiversity & Conservation Division, DPE North West Branch; and Nadiah Roslan, Project Coordinator – FrogID Australian Museum Research Institute.
  • Carnarvon Golf Club: in conjunction with the Greater Sydney Landcare Group’s Canopies project, held a third planting on 19 August where 1100 trees, shrubs and ground covers were planted by 35 volunteers and staff.
  • Riverfest 2022: held from 17 September (World Clean Up Day) to 25 September (World Rivers Day). This year’s celebration of the Parramatta River and its tributaries focused on litter clean-ups as well as opportunities to learn more about the catchment’s biodiversity.
  • Riverkeeper Program:
    • City of Canada Bay Sustainable Schools and Childcare Network – Junior Riverkeepers.
    • Local Government Biodiversity Network – Update on Biodiversity Actions in the Parramatta River Catchment.
    • Burramatta NAIDOC – Parramatta Park (July).
    • Greater Sydney Harbour Regional Litter Prevention Strategy Steering Group member – also conducted local litter checks jointly with SCCG and partner councils at two sites (August).
March – May 2022

  • Biodiversity and Education Subcommittee: In-person workshop held on 13 May to focus on reviewing and refocusing on actions for Step 8 Bring in Nature. Presentations were given by Jenny O’Meara and Viveca McGhie of Sydney Olympic Park Authority, as well as Carl Tippler of ET Environmental.
  • Riverkeeper Program:
    • EPA Strategic Stakeholders workshop (June).
    • Litter Congress (Keep Australia Beautiful).
    • Presentations at the Landcare NSW Conference on community engagement with Charlene Bordley, and the FRANC Stormwater NSW Conference, jointly with Catarina Fraga Matos (Canterbury Bankstown).
    • Together with the PRCG team, attended the ‘Yarning on Country – Knowing the past, working together for the future’ event, organised by Greater Sydney Local Land Services.
    • Particpated in the Places to Swim Advisory Panel
December 2021 – February 2022

  • Carnarvon Golf Club: in conjunction with the Greater Sydney Landcare Group’s Canopies project, planted 250 trees with a 97% seedling survival rate. Second round of tree planting was held on 24 March 2022 . The Golf Club is seeking funding and technical support for an Alligator weed removal project.
  • Riverfest 2022: Planning has commenced for Riverfest which will be held from 16 to 25 September 2022, culminating in a special celebration for World Rivers Day. September is Biodiversity Month and activities will focus on citizen science for our iconic species.
  • Riverkeeper Program activities:
    • Seaside Scavenge (19 February)
    • Bayview Park Low Tide Clean Up (29 February)
    • Carnarvon Gold Club tree planting (24 March).
September – November 2021

  • Biodiversity and Education Subcommittee:
    • Held on 17 August 2021.
    • Presentations and discussion on the following topics were provided: Citizen Science App, Love Your Waterways, Regional Litter Prevention Strategy, Riverfest program.
  • Carnarvon Golf Club: successfully received a small grant to install floating wetlands in their dam to assist with nutrient removal of the golf course irrigation supply. PRCG provided advice and a letter of support for the project.
June – August 2021

  • Riverfest 2021: 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 the iconic species being tested with council staff.
  • PRCG supported Carnarvon Golf Club in obtaining a grant to install floating wetlands in their dam.
March – May 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.
December 2020 – February 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.
September – November 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.
June – August 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.
March – May 2020

  • A Citizen Science app is being developed by a Macquarie University masters student in partnership with PRCG and DPIE Environmental Science.
December 2019 – February 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.
September – November 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).
June – August 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.
March – May 2019

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

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