The Home River Bioblitz

Jens Benöhr Riveros (CL), Vera Knook (NL), Carlos Velazco (MX), Enya Roseli (MX), Jelena Belojević (ME)

The Home River Bioblitz is a global citizen science initiative that aims to document and protect the richness of river ecosystems. Originating during the COVID-19 pandemic, this grassroots project emerged as a citizen-led effort to empower local communities to understand, appreciate, and conserve their nearby rivers and water bodies. As 2024 marks its fifth year, the project has cultivated a worldwide river community, fostering connections among rivers, diverse cultures, and countries through digital events and social networks. 

During the Home River Bioblitz, we go out to explore our local rivers together with peers, friends and family, thereby enlarging local networks of people that care about rivers. We identify the observed species with help of the global iNaturalist community. During an online recap session, we chat about the day with various specialists, zooming into some remarkable observations as well as discussing new ways to relate to our local river wildlife. The main spirit of the event is to celebrate and learn about rivers and their biodiversity as integral components of our society.

Jens Benöhr (CL) is a Chilean-German anthropologist, ecologist and kayaker dedicated to environmental education and science communication. Benöhr has spent the last years working in various environmental groups, including the collective Bestias del Sur Salvaje, a group of athletes who seek to link outdoor sports with socio-environmental activism, and the River Collective, a Europe based NGO that works in river conservation and science education in Eastern European countries.

Vera Knook (NL) is a river lover from the Netherlands, who lives in Peru. Rivers have shaped her life since she started kayaking at 14 years old. In 2017, Vera graduated as a hydraulic engineer, but soon got involved in the protection of rivers. In 2019 Knook found a team to organise the first Students for Rivers Camp. This resulted in the foundation of the River Collective. Vera loves creating opportunities with this community, as well as being a seasonal raft guide on the Marañón River (Perú).

Carlos Velazco (MX) is a Mexican biologist with graduate studies, trained as a botanist but turned into a Naturalist and citizen science advocate; he has devoted most of his professional life since 2006 to documenting biodiversity through photography, especially with neglected species such as endemic wildflowers and invertebrates, since 2013 he is one of the top users on iNaturalist, a world-leading platform to document biodiversity. He also works to educate a wide range of audiences in biodiversity topics providing educational talks and seminars and publishing articles both scientific and informal, he is currently working as an independent professional.

Enya Roseli Enriquez Brambila (MX) is an ecohydrologist, focusing on sustainable water resource management and social participation. Enya graduated as BSc in Natural Resources, with a Master’s in Watershed Management, and an ongoing Hydroinformatics PhD at IHE, Netherlands. Enya coordinates an ONG in her region named “Vigilando Rios y Arroyos” where she promotes conservative actions towards local rivers.  Her work integrates citizen science and nature research with digital platforms to enhance environmental education and engagement.

Jelena Belojević (ME) is an Ornithologist, Behavioral and Conservation Biologist originating from Montenegro. Belojević spent the last five years researching behavior and conservation of some of the most endangered shorebird populations in Europe, ruffs and southern dunlins in both Max Planck Institute for Biological Intelligence in Germany, and University of Oulu in Finland. Her goal is to connect basic research with conservation and inform currently ongoing management practices to improve the conditions of breeding and migratory habitats for shorebirds. 

The Home River Bioblitz empowers communities to become stewards of their local rivers. By engaging in citizen science activities such as biodiversity documentation and data analysis, participants contribute to scientific research and gain a deeper understanding of the importance of river conservation. The project is building a network of individuals and organisations dedicated to protecting and preserving the river ecosystems for future generations.