BSCFL Media Release 8 May 2018
Several members of BSCFL attended the workshop on Byron Shire’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Policy in Mullumbimby on May 3rd. Unfortunately, community participation throughout the process of developing the IPM Policy has been micro-managed and there was little opportunity for real community participation at this event too.
It was clear that many had not read the IPM Directions Document which the Council has released yet participants were directed to consider four very generalised questions which arose from it. For example, ‘what are the hazards of using pesticides (at a number of sites shown in photographs)? Well, what are the pesticides used, what is the frequency of use, what are the breakdown products, what are the health/environmental effects? And were all the participants well informed to answer? Would you allow your local organic farmer to do brain surgery (or would you allow the brain surgeon to do your plumbing)? You may well agree to pesticide use one-off on fire ants but not to regular use or to purely cosmetic use in other areas. Many queries arise from the Directions Document but the workshop was not structured to obtain answers.
Pesticide use was outlined in three main areas: public spaces, West Byron Sewage Treatment Plant (STP), and Landcare.
BSCFL commends Byron Shire Council for their huge reduction of pesticides in public spaces. An important way this has been achieved is by the use of saturated steam weeding and we would like to thank Paul Sommers for introducing this technology to this shire.
Another area of concern is at the West Byron STP where Parrots Feather dominates one of the reed cells. The STP eventually flows to the Belongil Estuary. Glyphosate has been used on this weed in large quantities for many years. Parrots Feather loves high nutrients and high light. Naturally the nutrients are high at an STP, but the light? Why are the reeds not providing good coverage so that they reduce light? Is the glyphosate destroying reeds?
The third area is Landcare. While BSCFL understands that Landcare training to date has focussed on a war on weeds, we have shown that other strategies and techniques are highly effective. There are other chemical-free bush regenerators in the shire who have also worked effectively without synthetic pesticides. We note in the Management Directions Document comments on the need to use pesticides on pests we in chem-free already know the simple alternatives to their management.
I suppose the take-home message we have is that BSC should take advantage of the expertise in chemical-free landcare in this Shire and ensure that those who have already moved ahead to remove pesticides from their lives are included both in the development of the policy document and also in future Council decision making in these matters. As Albert Einstein is reputed to have said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them”.