There are alternatives to toxic pesticides
Sir, As a long-term forestry contractor, I am 100 per cent pro forestry.
I do, however, have serious concerns about certain directions of travel within the industry. For today, however, I would like to comment on the use of neonicotinoids and other insecticides to treat commercial transplants, mainly conifers.
This is happening throughout the Highlands and islands with very little public awareness.
The problem is there are several solutions to the problem of weevil attack that are far less reliant on chemicals such as these.
These are being trialled on a very small scale, relatively, within the industry.
However, at present in this country there is no investment in the development of alternatives (such as waxes, barriers, repellents, attractants) coming from the big forestry companies directly to the nurseries.
Having spoken extensively with many in elevated positions within the industry, my assessment for those interested is as follows.
As each generation of chemical (all described as ‘safe’) is banned, the industry puts itself in a position of dodging bullets. If all environmentally harmful chemicals are banned tomorrow will the whole industry collapse?
Some effort is being put into trialling alternatives but these alternatives suffer from a lack of sufficient investment. Nurseries offer them while making financial losses.
There seems to me to be a curious lack of interest by the industry in the harmful effects of these chemicals on both environment and contractor health. There is a lack of knowledge and ensuing complacency. Why, for instance, does no- one ever mention that rodents, deer and rabbits consume large numbers of chemical treated trees each year?
My position is we must stop working to minimum guidelines and push hard to create an industry the next generation can be proud of. Forestry should take much more seriously its responsibility to the delicate environment where it is practiced. Also towards the people who live and work in or near its operations.
I care passionately about this beautiful country and I want to see a thriving and healthy forestry industry adding value in all ways. I do not want an industry whose main goal is ever increasing profit to the detriment of both environment and local quality contractors. R Watt, Forestry consultant.