Mull res­i­dents’ fears over Gazelle use

The Oban Times - - LETTERS -

Sir,

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’.

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