Letter to the Editor. Not published.

Congratulations to Byron Shire Council and our Mayor, Simon Richardson, whose press release said. “With-out affecting biodiversity Council sets Chemical free target .“ Although I would have liked to see the 5 year phase out period considerably shorter, it is a start.

In reality, herbicide and pesticide use seriously and negatively impact on ecological biodiversity. The European Union this month banned many herbicides and pesticides, because they listened to observers on the ground who had watched and protested as the bees disappeared in the country-side. Independent studies, fiercely resisted by the chemical companies, found commonly used herbicides and pesticides were killing the bee. They also found that broad spectrum herbicides, often used in urban gardens, were knocking out so called flowering weeds which were a valuable nectar source for the bee. A twist to the bee’s survival success has come from the cities which have seen bee hives sprout on the top of buildings. A recent comparison of honey from the country-side and the city found the city honey was free of herbicide and synthetic fertiliser contamination. It takes at least eight bees all their life to make one single teaspoonful of honey . Most European cities now have herbicide free public spaces where so called weeds are allowed to flower.

So it is sad to see wide spread spraying and injecting around this Shire continuing. Yesterday I saw a small field of the short lived tobacco bush being sprayed. No protection for the sprayer. (Tobacco is a valuable food source for a number of our birds that adapted to introduced food sources when us Europeans removed their native source.) Invasive plants are easily removed manually and until suitable ground cover can replace what is removed then any ground cover is vital. We get more frequent short bursts of heavy rain, bare soil exposed means soil and chemical residue is flushed into our water-ways whether it be in an urban area or in the valleys.

Time to divert money spent on herbicides into wages for the increasing number of young people who want to work more sensitively in land restoration. Time to put the real value on our extraordinary ecological bio diversity which I am very privileged to live amongst.

At last, an environmental good news story which gives chemical free bush regenerators, dune care volunteers and organic farmers a long waited for degree of support and encouragement.

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