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Protection and Maintenance

5.2Pesticides, biological control agents and fertilizers

Background to use in the UK

In some countries with substantial woodland cover and well established forestry management practices the use of pesticides is not considered to be compatible with good woodland stewardship, or is prohibited because of actual and potential hazards. However, within the UK, the combination of an oceanic climate, the recent historical dominance of clearfell silvicultural systems and the desire to expand woodland cover, particularly on fertile lowland (often former agricultural) sites, may require the use of a limited range of pesticides and/or fertilizers to establish trees rapidly. These should be carefully selected and applied to minimise or eliminate adverse effects on the environment or operator.

In addition, pesticides, fertilizers or biological control agents may be needed to:

  • Control outbreaks of non-native pests on native and non-native tree species
  • Control locally damaging native pests on non-native tree species
  • Improve nutrient availability
  • Reduce local damage by native pests on native tree species
  • Control invasive vegetation for biodiversity conservation.

The UK forestry sector has been actively researching a number of alternatives to pesticide use in specific areas and this work is ongoing.

Woodland owners and managers should be mindful of the likelihood that the number of pesticides approved for forestry use will decrease in future as existing products are re-evaluated at a European level. This gives added impetus for owners and managers to seek alternative methods of control.

5.2

Requirement

Owners/managers shall minimise their use of pesticides and fertilizers and endeavour to avoid their use where practicable.

Guidance

Where there is no practicable alternative, in terms of economic, social and environmental costs, owners/managers should provide justification for their use.

5.2.1

Requirement

  1. The owner/manager shall prepare and implement an effective Integrated Pest Management Strategy which:
    • Adopts management systems that shall promote the development and application of non-chemical methods of pest and crop management by placing primary reliance on prevention and biological control methods where practicable.
    • Takes account of the importance of safeguarding the value of sites with special biodiversity attributes (see also section 6.1.1) when considering methods of control.
    • Demonstrates knowledge of the latest published advice and its appropriate application.
  2. The strategy shall include a description of all known use over the previous five years, or the duration of the current woodland ownership if that is less than five years.
  3. The strategy shall specify aims for the minimisation or elimination of pesticide usage, taking into account considerations of cost (economic, social and environmental), and the cyclical nature of woodland management operations.
  4. The strategy shall be appropriate to the scale of the woodland and the intensity of management.

Means of verification

  • Written policy and strategy or statement.

Guidance

Sites with special biodiversity attributes include:

  • All ancient woodland on the inventory of ancient woodland, and other known sites which meet the same criteria, distinguishing between the categories of the individual national inventories
  • Semi-natural features in plantations on ancient woodland sites
  • Valuable or diverse wildlife communities
  • Rare and vulnerable species
  • UK Biodiversity Action Plan Priority Habitats and Species
  • Breeding sites, feeding areas and habitats of notable species
  • Water courses, ponds and lakes
  • Wetland habitats
  • Lowland heath
  • Peatlands covered by the Forestry Commission’s forests and peatlands policy or the Forest Service’s afforestation and environmental policy
  • Rides and open ground
  • Woodland margins and hedges
  • Veteran trees
  • Decaying deadwood habitat
  • Any other valuable habitats or features.

Identification and mapping of areas and features may be carried out on an ongoing basis, provided that it has been completed for an area prior to operations taking place.

5.2.2

Requirement

Where pesticides and biological control agents are to be used:

  1. The owner/manager shall provide reasons to justify their use demonstrating that there is no practicable alternative, in terms of economic, social and environmental costs.
  2. The owner/manager, staff and contractors shall be aware of and implement legal requirements and non-legislative guidance for use of pesticides and biological control agents in forestry. (See also section 5.2.5 on fertilizers.)
  3. The owner/manager shall keep records of pesticide usage and biological control agents as required by current legislation.

Means of verification

All woodlands:

  • COSHH assessments
  • FEPA records
  • Waste transfer notes
  • Discussions with the owner/manager, staff and contractors
  • Field observation, particularly in respect to storage, application sites, protective clothing and warning signs.

Non-SLIM woodlands:

  • Adequate written procedures, work instructions, and other documentation
  • FEPA record of the precise usage including the rationale, method of application, site and quantity.

Guidance

Usage should be recorded in such a way that comparisons can be made year on year. Therefore additional to the requirement to record information under current legislation (which includes product, application rates and area treated), owners and managers should sub-divide usage according to operations (e.g. establishment of broadleaves, establishment of conifers, harvesting, control of invasive species). This may enable trends to be observed and future action targeted accordingly, including any necessary revision of the strategy.

5.2.3

Requirement

Where pesticides or biological control agents are to be used the owner/manager shall be able to demonstrate that they are meeting the requirements of best practice for use of pesticides and biological control agents.

Means of verification

All woodlands:

  • Field observation of facilities for storage and disposal
  • Safety equipment
  • Availability of lockable boxes for transport
  • Availability of absorbent materials
  • Risk assessments
  • Safety equipment
  • Emergency plans
  • Operators are trained and competent, and hold pesticide operator certification where required.

Non-SLIM woodlands:

  • Written emergency plan.
5.2.4

Requirement

Pesticides and biological control agents shall only be used if:

  1. they are approved for forest use by the UK regulatory authorities, and
  2. they are not banned by international agreement, and
  3. their use is permitted by the certificate holder’s certification scheme.

Pesticides categorised as Type 1A and 1B by the World Health Organization or any other pesticides whose use is restricted by the certificate holder’s certification scheme shall not be used unless:

  1. no effective and practicable alternatives are available, and
  2. their use is sanctioned using a mechanism endorsed by the certificate holder’s certification scheme, and
  3. any such mechanism provides for their use to be justified and on the condition that usage shall be discontinued once effective and practicable alternatives are available.

Means of verification

  • Records of chemicals purchased and used
  • Field observation
  • Discussions with owner/manager, staff and contractors.

Guidance

Advice to owners/managers

Owners/managers are advised to seek guidance from their certification body or group scheme manager on any additional certification scheme requirements relating to the use of pesticides.

5.2.5

Requirement

Fertilizers (inorganic and organic):

  1. Fertilizers shall only be used where they are necessary to secure establishment or to correct subsequent nutrient deficiencies.
  2. Where fertilizers are to be used the owner/manager, staff and contractors shall be aware of and shall be implementing legal requirements and best practice guidance for their use in forestry.
  3. In addition, bio-solids shall only be used following an assessment of environmental impacts in accordance with section 3.1.
  4. The owner/manager shall keep a record of fertilizer usage.

Means of verification

All woodlands:

  • Discussions with owner/manager, staff and contractors
  • Field observation, particularly in respect to storage, application sites, protective clothing and warning signs.

Non-SLIM woodlands:

  • Adequate written procedures, work instructions, and other documentation.

Guidance

Unnecessary use of fertilizers may be avoided through the appropriate choice of species.