The large pine weevil.
Concerns have been raised about plans by an Irish forestry grower to spray the insecticide, Cypermethrin, on conifer plantations in the Cloone area of South Leitrim in the coming weeks.
The Leitrim Observer have been contacted by local residents and groups with concerns over the spraying. Irish Forestry Unity Trust confirmed that "we (the Irish Forestry Unit Trust) have not asked families to stay indoors and keep their animals indoors. We asked one individual, who lives on a plot of land within the forest to control their dogs from entering the work site when operations are ongoing."
The wider community has not been informed of exactly when the spraying operations will take place and this is causing some upset.
Irish Forestry Unit Trust, is the largest private grower of forestry supplying roundwood to Irish sawmills. They are intending to use Cypermethrin to deal with pine weevils in forestry planted the local area.
In March 2016 the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Pesticides Committee approved a derogation to use Cypermethrin for the control of large pine weevils in certified forest plantations in Ireland.
Under this derogation the forestry companies using this insecticide must notify local authorities prior to direct application and must also put up notices in areas to warn the public of the use of this chemical. Local beekeepers must also be informed when plantations are to be sprayed within a 2km location of a beehive.
The Irish Forestry Unit Trust is one of only two certified plantations covered by this derogation, which is due to expire on March 1, 2021.
The Leitrim Observer understands that the Irish Forestry Unit Trust has contacted Leitrim County Council to inform them of the derogation and of their intention to use Cypermethrin, but no dates for spraying have been provided to the local authority. The local authority itself is not responsible for monitoring the use of this chemical, which the Leitrim Observer understands, falls under the remit of the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.
Anti-forestry campaigners, Save Leitrim, put up a Facebook post warning about the intended use of the chemical in the area of Halls, Cloone. The post has since gone viral.
The Federation of Irish Beekeepers Association also put up a twitter post about the proposed use of Cypermethrin in counties Leitrim (Halls, Cloone); Roscommon (Behy); Sligo (Tunnagh) and Longford (Mosstown) in the coming weeks.
Save Leitrim spokesperson, Justin Warnock said: “Cypermethrin is highly toxic particularly to fish, bees and aquatic life. With the current biodiversity crisis we need to seriously look at the continued use of chemicals such as these to deal with things like pine weevil”.
He also pointed out this area is being used by people within the wider community for exercise during the current lockdown period adding “many of the people who might use this area aren’t aware that this chemical is going to be sprayed. They may be walking in the area at the time and that is not acceptable.
“We are in a biodiversity crisis and Cypermethrin is continuously used in Leitrim and across Ireland in the forestry industry,” he said, adding that Save Leitrim were calling for an immediate end to the use of Cypermethrin.
Irish Forestry Unit Trust says spraying is a 'last resort'
In a statement issued to the Leitrim Observer, Irish Forestry Unit Trust pointed out their forests are commercial ventures on private lands.
“We are very proud that our forests are used for public recreation and we are delighted for people to exercise in our forests during these testing times. However forest operations must take place from time to time,” the statement noted.
“Occasionally we must ask the public to refrain from using our forests for limited periods and this is one of those occasions,” said the statement.
“Spraying is only used in very limited circumstances, as a last resort.
“In regards to the timing of spraying, the operation is only carried out is suitable dry weather conditions. The chemical is approved for use and it is applied as small spot application directly onto the young tree stem, using best practice guidelines and fully trained and competent operators.
“We erect operational signage at the work sites to warn the public of works that are ongoing and we ask members of the public to comply with those signs. Forestry is a great recreational resource and in order to enjoy the benefits it is necessary to limit access from time to time.”