Rapid biomonitoring protocols, using biotic indices based on macro invertebrate diversity to assess river ecosystem health, are widely used globally. In South Africa, the so called SASS5 (South African Scoring System, version 5) is used.
SASS5 training and accreditation took place at the Albany Museum during the first week of October, with delegates from around the country, and Lesotho. This was a combined effort between the Department of Freshwater Invertebrates and GroundTruth Consultants, Hilton. Juan Tedder of GroundTruth Consultants, with Dr Helen James, Eastern Cape SASS accreditor since 2005, and Dr Alex Holland, herself accredited for the past eight years, worked together to teach the delegates all about this process.
PhD student, Ina Ferreira, assisted with the microscope training section. Four days of intensive lecturing, interspersed with trips in the field, ended with the accreditation of a few of the delegates on Friday.
The accreditation aims at standardising SASS5 results around the country by ensuring that all practitioners use the correct protocol, thus minimising variation in results between individuals. The results are sent to the Department of Water and Sanitation, and successful delegates are awarded a SASS5 accreditation certificate which is valid for three years.