Methyl Bro­mide re­place­ment a step closer

New Zealand Logger - - Forest Talk -

A SIG­NIF­I­CANT MILE­STONE HAS BEEN REACHED IN RE­PLAC­ING Methyl Bro­mide as the stan­dard fu­mi­gant for ex­port logs and tim­ber.

The En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Au­thor­ity has re­leased ap­pli­ca­tion de­tails for ap­proval of Ethane­dini­trile (EDN), which the for­est in­dus­try hopes could re­place methyl bro­mide fu­mi­ga­tion used on log ex­ports to China and India.

Methyl Bro­mide is an ozone de­plet­ing chem­i­cal and reg­u­la­tions due to come into ef­fect in 2020 will make it con­sid­er­ably more dif­fi­cult and ex­pen­sive to use.

The Chair of Stake­hold­ers in Methyl Bro­mide Re­duc­tion (STIMBR), Don Ham­mond, says ap­proval by the EPA is the crit­i­cal first step into its use in New Zealand to en­sure log ex­ports are free of pests the im­port­ing coun­tries don’t want.

“Over the past seven years STIMBR and our co-fund­ing part­ners, in­clud­ing the New Zealand gov­ern­ment, have in­vested more than $22 mil­lion in re­search on al­ter­na­tives to methyl bro­mide, as well as ways to re­duce the amounts that need to be used, along with re­cap­ture and de­struc­tion tech­nolo­gies,” says Mr Ham­mond.

He says an ex­ten­sive re­view of sci­en­tific lit­er­a­ture com­mis­sioned by STIMBR in 2014 found only one promis­ing fu­mi­gant al­ter­na­tive to methyl bro­mide, adding: “Plant and Food Re­search con­firmed EDN is an ef­fec­tive phy­tosan­i­tary treat­ment for in­sects which might be found on our logs.

“There are clear ad­van­tages of EDN over methyl bro­mide. EDN has no ef­fect on the ozone layer. It is not a green­house gas. It does not bioac­cu­mu­late be­cause it breaks down rapidly in the en­vi­ron­ment with­out leav­ing harm­ful residues in the soil or in wa­ter.”

EDN is cur­rently man­u­fac­tured by Draslovka a fam­ily-owned com­pany based in the Czech Repub­lic. Over the past three years Mr Ham­mond says Draslovka has made sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment to de­velop EDN into a com­mer­cially vi­able and en­vi­ron­men­tally sus­tain­able al­ter­na­tive to Methyl Bro­mide for use glob­ally as a soil and com­mod­ity treat­ment.

Peter Clark, re­tir­ing Pres­i­dent of the For­est Own­ers As­so­ci­a­tion, says while EPA ap­proval is a vi­tal first step that doesn’t mean im­port­ing coun­tries will au­to­mat­i­cally ac­cept its use.

“We are con­fi­dent that, with the huge wealth of pos­i­tive data on EDN, that EPA will give it ap­proval,” says Mr Clark. “The process of as­sur­ing other coun­tries that EDN is both ef­fec­tive and safe to use, must also be un­der­taken as a gov­ern­ment pri­or­ity.

“Though the value of log ex­ports is less than half of the value of our to­tal tim­ber ex­ports, 71% of our logs go to China, and presently methyl bro­mide treat­ment is an im­por­tant com­po­nent of that trade.

“Fur­ther, all logs go­ing to India re­quire Methyl Bro­mide treat­ment. Re­solv­ing this is­sue is a clear pri­or­ity for our in­dus­try.”

New Zealand log ex­porters are closer to find­ing a suit­able re­place­ment for Methyl Bro­mide fu­mi­ga­tion.

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