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This study was undertaken to determine the present ecological state of rivers and streams in the Buffelspoort Valley Conservancy (BVC), against which later potential changes in, and impacts on, water quality could be measured. After very brief training, all field work, including site selection and sample collection, was carried out by the members of the Conservancy. All samples collected by the members of the Conservancy were of an adequate quality for analysis and yielded meaningful results. This study demonstrates that there is great potential for the use of diatoms in community monitoring programmes, mainly due to the ease and rapidity with which samples can be collected. The participation of communities is also vital in gaining a more complete overview of the diatom species occurring in South Africa.