Salmon & Trout Association (S&TA) and Afonydd Cymru ‘two cheers’ for Natural Resources Wales’s decision to phase out the use of cypermethrin in Welsh Government forestry

Responding to the outcome of the NRW’s Review of the Use of Cypermethrin in Forestry (1), the Salmon & Trout Association and Afonydd Cymru have broadly welcomed the environmental body for Wales, Natural Resources Wales, decision to end the use of cypermethrin in forestry by 2017.

While even three years of continuing use of the highly toxic pesticide, cypermethrin, in the Welsh Government Woodland Estate (formerly, the Forestry Commission Wales) is regrettable, we are pleased that the original plans for five years further use, as reflected in the application made for a further derogation to the Forestry Stewardship Council earlier this year, have been reduced.

Paul Knight Executive Director of the S&TA said

“As so much of the Welsh Government Woodland Estate is in upland areas, much of it in the headwaters of aquatic Special Areas for Conservation (SACs) such as the River Wye and the River Tywi, the Salmon & Trout Association believes that any further use of cypermethrin as a treatment for pine weevil is wrong and risks harming insect and fish life in those rivers which are supposed to be protected by NRW under the strictest possible conservation legislation we have.

The NRW must keep the use of cypermethrin under review over the next three years and must monitor Welsh headwaters very closely indeed.

If at any stage, it becomes clear that NRW cannot be sure that no harm is being caused, especially to the SACs and the species – such as native crayfish – for which those SACs were designated – then it must immediately stop using this toxic pesticide”.

In January 2014, the S&TA, together with Afonydd Cymru, objected strongly to the application made by NRW, as the successor body to the Forestry Commission Wales, for a derogation from the Forestry Stewardship Council’s certification process to allow them to continue to use the extremely toxic pesticide cypermethrin for the control of pine weevils for another five years (2).

At the time, the S&TA and Afonydd Cymru pointed out that to be granted an extension to the derogation NRW had to show that there were exceptional circumstances and that there was no evidence of negative impacts over the last five years of the use of cypermethrin. In its response to a consultation exercise, the S&TA and Afonydd Cymru clearly demonstrated there is more than sufficient evidence to suggest that damage has been caused including to the headwaters of the River Wye SAC and that exceptional circumstances did not apply.

It is quite clear that the deployment of the full range of alternative techniques and strategies would reduce the pine weevil threat, in all probability to a level at which the economic costs, if any, are easily bearable and certainly to a level at which the environmental benefit and the benefit to nature conservation would far outweigh the benefits of continuing to use cypermethrin.

However, despite already having enjoyed a five-year derogation from FSC rules since 2009, forestry interests argued that the industry was still not ready to deal with pine weevil without cypermethrin.

By way of compromise, the FSC awarded a three-year derogation to run to October 2017, permitting the use of cypermethrin but only”if a biological product, bioinsecticide or protective coating cannot be used” (3).

The S&TA will be putting NRW to proof, case by case, that when it uses cypermethrin in the WGWE over the next three years, that no alternative approaches could have been used instead. If that turns out is not to be the case that would constitute a breach of the conditions of the FSC derogation just granted.

Huw Evans, Chairman of Afonydd Cymru, said:

“Despite the three year window, the NRW, as successor body to the Forestry Commission Wales, must now demonstrate leadership and do all it can to end the use of cypermethrin in the Welsh Government Woodland Estate as soon as possible, as an example to all other public and, indeed, private forestry which still relies on this extremely toxic chemical, to the detriment of wildlife.”

Paul Knight concluded,”This is not a decision to keep using cypermethrin just as before. This is a decision to minimise use and for a maximum period of three years. Any hint of this being ‘business as usual’ and the S&TA will take action”.

Notes

  1. NRW (2014) A review of the use of cypermethrin and alpha-cypermethrin on the Welsh Government Woodland Estate, 14th September 2014. Unpublished report.
  2. S&TA and AC (2014) Joint submission by the Salmon & Trout Association and Afonydd Cymru in response to the consultation on proposed application for a temporary derogation to use a highly hazardous pesticide. January 2014.
  3. FSC (2014) Pesticide Derogation for the Use of cypermethrin in the UK, granted 16th June 2014, ending 31st October 2017