The clock is ticking for Australian freshwater turtles. Over the last 40 years, the most common and widespread species have declined by up to 91% because of introduced foxes and increased urbanisation. We are also seeing mass die-offs as a result of habitat-quality related diseases. Traditional management strategies to reduce these impacts are not working and we are running out of time to reduce their risks of extinction. Turtles are iconic, but are also of major importance in river ecosystems and a loss of abundant scavengers, will have serious effects on general river health.
We are proposing Australia’s largest, community-empowered, conservation program. Local communities will lead “expansionary conservation”, where we aim to release more than 1 million extra turtles throughout South-Eastern Australia each year. A Crowd-Funding program to support the 1 Million Turtles Community Conservation Program will support turtle conservation initiatives, such as “Turtles in the Classroom” or the creation of protected islands and nesting grounds around local wetlands, urban parks, and constructed wetlands. This will ensure that our freshwater turtle populations persist into the future.