Careful and appropriate use of insecticides to maintain plantation health, 28 November 2016

Suzette Weeding, General Manager Forest Management, Forestry Tasmania

Forestry Tasmania strongly rejects any suggestion that we are careless or inappropriate in our use of insecticides, or that limited use of insecticides to maintain plantation health is inconsistent with FSC certification.

We do not spray in native forests, and we seek to avoid or minimise use of insecticides in plantations.
In many cases natural predators or weather events mean that spraying is unnecessary – which is our preferred position – however, unfortunately there are some circumstances in which there are no effective alternative management options to dealing with specific threats to plantation health.

In these circumstances, the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) acknowledges that the controlled use of insecticides may be preferable to alternatives, and therefore has a process which permits the restricted use of insecticides.

In fact, FSC International has just granted approval for the limited ongoing use of Alpha-Cypermethrin to control a range of insects in certified eucalypt plantations in Australia.  This applies to eight large forest managers across Australia.

Forestry Tasmania only uses insecticides on young plantations, and only when those plantations are at risk of severe defoliation from insect attack - as we need to protect the future sawlog supply for Tasmanian sawmillers.

The insecticide, Alpha-Cypermethrin is used in those cases where monitoring of eucalypt plantations has identified the presence of large numbers of leaf beetles that are capable of causing significant damage to plantations through eating large amounts of leaves. 

In 2015/16 we monitored about 9,300 hectares of plantations for potentially damaging insect populations, but only 768 hectares were sprayed.

All our use of insecticides is in accordance with Australian and Tasmanian Government requirements, and any application of insecticides is very carefully planned and applied to minimise potential risks.  For example, to minimise the risks associated with our insecticide operations, we use the CSIRO developed Pesticide Impact Rating Index software package. 

This Index determines the risk of an insecticide operation based on: chemical mobility; toxicity to indicator invertebrates, fish and mammal species; and site-specific variables such as soil type and landscape.  All modelled chemical applications in recent years have been assessed as having low or very low environmental risk.

We also conduct a water quality monitoring program at sites where there may be a risk to water quality, or where there is stakeholder concern associated with our chemical use.  No chemicals have been detected in any samples collected in recent years.

Forestry Tasmania has done extensive research over many years looking at potential alternatives to the use of Alpha-Cypermethrin, but to date has not succeeded in identifying a viable and effective alternative

Monday, 28 November 2016