There are al­ter­na­tives to toxic pes­ti­cides

The Oban Times - - Letters -

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.

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