Mull residents’ fears over Gazelle use
Regarding the article ‘Debate continues over treatment for pine weevil’:
I write on behalf of a group of more than 50 residents of North West Mull concerned about the use, in forests across the island, of Gazelle, containing amongst other chemicals the neonicotinoid acetamiprid. Our deeply held concerns are three fold:
The dire effect of neonicotinoids on wildlife and biodiversity. This includes aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates, and the animals and birds that feed on them;
The water solubility of acetamiprid which raises concerns over the possible contamination of private and public water supplies and the subsequent effect on human health;
The risk to health of contractors handling the treated seedlings or spraying the Gazelle – much of the time in very remote areas of Scotland away from management supervision.
Acetamiprid has not been proven to be safe and there are a growing number of scientific papers, published more recently than 2013, which provide evidence to support our concerns. In 2015 it was classed as ‘highly hazardous’ by UKWAS (UK Woodland Assurance Standard). Currently the EU is considering a complete ban of neonicotinoid use in its member states. We understand that nearly 150 pesticides and herbicides previously licensed as safe to use have subsequently been banned.
On Mull there are two community-owned forests and thankfully, in response to our concerns, North West Mull Community Woodland Company and South West Mull and Iona Development have agreed NOT to consider using Gazelle without first consulting the community. Forestry Commission Scotland has not used Gazelle in Mull forests, however, this pesticide has already been used in two privately owned forests on the island.
There are alternatives to using Gazelle, including using more mature saplings, extending the fallow period between harvesting and replanting to more than five years possibly with the addition of using barrier methods (such as nets and wax). Across Scandinavia and a growing number of European countries non-chemical methods are being used.
In order for forest managers to be able to extend the fallow period there would have to be a change in the Forest Design Plan contracts and any associated grant requirements. This would need the support of the Scottish Government and its agent Forestry Commission Scotland.
It would also be good to see outside funding support for further research in to alternative methods of pine weevil control as seen in other countries. Caroline Wood on behalf of ‘No Neonicotinoids on Mull Group’.