Platypus Pals wins state environmental award

Published on 14 December 2022

The Platypus Pals project, a citizen science initiative to confirm the presence of platypus in the Georges River, has been recognised at the Local Government NSW Excellence in the Environment Awards, winning the Communication Education and Empowerment Award.

The Council-run project drew on the support of passionate locals and fishers to collect water samples that were analysed using a new scientific method called environmental DNA (eDNA) which confirmed a small population of platypus living in the Georges and Nepean Rivers and a population of endangered Macquarie perch with the Georges River.

Council then began an education campaign to protect the platypus, installing signage and tangler bins to encourage behaviours such as responsible fishing and engaging with local schools to teach students about river health.

“When Council and the community collaborate, it can lead to some fantastic outcomes,” Mayor George Greiss said.

“This project saw community volunteers join forces with staff, researches and experts to help survey the river and educate the wider community,” Cr Greiss said.

“Platypus are an iconic Australian species so it’s very important that we continue to ensure they are able to thrive in the Georges and Nepean Rivers,” he said.

The project was funded by the Australian Government’s Communities Environment Program, OzFish Unlimited, and the NSW Government’s Sustainable Schools Program through James Meehan High School and Macquarie Fields High School, with support from the Georges River Environmental Education Centre.

The collaborative program also included Western Sydney University, Campbelltown City Bushcare, Macarthur Branch National Parks Association, Sydney University, Georges Riverkeeper and Camden and Wollondilly Councils.