Hazardous chemical being used in Irish forests needs to be phased out 

Ian Carey News, Press Releases, Submissions

The Environmental Pillar are calling for an end to the use of the hazardous chemical Cypermethrin in Irish forests.

This chemical which kills insects is being used in significant quantities over a large area of land, some 50,000 ha, in an attempt to protect the non-native spruce and pine from pests.

The Environmental Pillar believe the use of this highly hazardous chemical is having a major impact on biodiversity through the reduction of various insect species.

The chemical is used to dip young plants and also sprayed on land in an effort to control the impact of the pine weevil.

Coillte are currently looking to continue the use of this highly hazardous chemical for the next five years.

In a submission to Coillte the Environmental Pillar are calling for:

1. A complete immediate ban on the spraying of Cypermethrin on forest sites.

2. An incremental phasing out of the dipping of plants in nurseries over the next five years to allow for different approaches to dealing with the pine weevil.

Spokesperson for the Environmental Pillar Andrew St Ledger said:

“Since it was first introduced in 2007 it has been used on an area roughly 70 times the size of the Phoenix Park.

“This chemical poses a real threat to wildlife especially bees who are already under severe pressure. Bees and other pollinators are vitally important for food production and a healthy environment. I find it strange that Coillte were not consulted on the National Pollinator Plan currently being finalised

“The Irish Forest Industry dependency on this hazardous chemical exposes the myth that this industrial tree farming model is sustainable. Those of us who live near forest sites will be familiar with warning signs asking the public to not eat berries or allow their dogs drink water on site.

“It is high time to move away from this outdated unsustainable forestry model, to a more natural forest model based on our native trees which are not dependent on hazardous chemicals.”

The Environmental Pillar want to see the increased use of native species in forests. Native species are adapted to Irish conditions and if a mixed native forestry is introduced it can mitigate against the problems that pests such as the pine weevil present.

Some of the benefits of ending the use of Cypermethrin could be:

* Delayed replanting, allowing time for some diverse species natural regeneration to occur

* A reduction in the size of plots where clear felling is applied and an increase in continuous cover forestry systems

* More structural and species diversity in the design and management of future stands for both afforestation and reafforestation

* A re- evaluation of optimum log size and rotation lengths combined with timber product innovations

* Healthier working conditions for people working and living near forest sites

* Reduced harm to bees and other pollinators

* Reduced threats to aquatic organisms

* Further innovations in biological controls and nontoxic inhibitors

Background

Coillte have used Cypermethrin to pre-treat plants in the controlled environment of nurseries since early 2007. It is designed to provide protection against weevil attack to the plants for a period of up to six months minimising in most circumstance the requirement of spraying in the field for the first year after planting.

The application of Cypermethrin in the field is by way of spraying directly onto the stem of the plant and conducted during good weather.

No spraying is undertaken in any aquatic buffer zone (between 10 to 25 meters from a stream edge) that may be present on the treated site.

Coillte conducted trials on the use of cypermethrin in 2006 and first starting using it operationally in 2007.  The total amount of cypermethrin used since then is 105,597 litres reducing from 17,700 litres in 2007 to 9,400 litres in 2013. Approximately 50 per cent of this was this for pre-treatment of plants in the nursery and the other 50 per cent used in spraying on the plants in the forest.  The area reforested in that period is approximately 50,000 ha.

Environmental Pillar submission to Coillte on pesticide cypermethrin 
Ian CareyHazardous chemical being used in Irish forests needs to be phased out