Conservation Minister and Logging Company Supporting Herbicide Overkill in Rainforest Reserve
Environmental groups Friends of the Earth and Friends of Gippsland Bush today expressed alarm at the recent application of residual herbicides by Hancock Victorian Plantations in the Nationally Significant College Creek area inside the Strzelecki Cores and Links Rainforest Reserve.
A recent visit to the site revealed that the company was using the fertiliser/herbicide mixture Eucmix G. Eucmix G consists of the herbicides, Sulfometuron Methyl and Terbacil. Friends of the Earth estimates that up to half a tonne of Terbacil could be used in College Creek alone, with almost 2 tonnes being applied to the entire Cores and Links Reserve.
Terbacil has a very high Groundwater Ubiquity Score, meaning that there is a very high risk of pesticide movement off site. â€œWe are extremely concerned that Terbacil could runoff site into rainforest gullies poisoning remnant vegetationâ€ said Friends of the Earth spokesperson Anthony Amis. â€œWe are also concerned that Eucmix G is effectively being used to kill off natural regeneration in the reserve. Terbacil has a half life in soil of almost 9 months, meaning that any naturally regenerating species could be poisoned during and after that time. In late 2007, we were concerned about obvious signs of plant suppression at Craig Court inside the reserve and the company claimed that they were not using any sprays in the reserve. Now we know what they are usingâ€.
â€œThe label for Eucmix G states that the granular herbicide should not be used before (within 48 hours) or during periods of intense rainfall, yet College Creek received at least 100mm of rainfall in the last week in September after the herbicide was applied. How can the Minister and the Company guarantee that the poison will not leach offsiteâ€ Mr Amis asked.
Herbicides are used in plantations to kill off unwanted weeds that compete with planted trees for nutrients and light. Eucmix G is supposed to kill capeweed, Annual Ryegrass, White Clover and Fog Grass that grows in plantations. However none of these weeds occurs in the reserve. These weeds are usually associated with ex-pasture sites, not native forest sites. â€œOne can only conclude that Hancock, with the Minister's support, are deliberately poisoning natural regeneration, because they do not want competition with the trees they have planted in the reserve. This could mean that the Government or Company has plans to log these trees in the future. What's wrong with letting the sites regenerate naturally?â€ Mr Amis asked.
The secret Strzlelecki reserve deal was signed between by Minister Jennings and Hancock CEO, Linda Sewell, in August 2008 allowing the company to log 1500ha of the Reserve and then handing over that land to the Government, where it supposedly would be reserved. Details of the deal have remained confidential and the community has concerns that if the land isn't reserved, it could be logged in the future. Minister Jennings was quoted in the Latrobe Valley Express on 22nd of June 2009 that there was â€œno need for a signed document because there has been a public announcement that the forest will be returned to, and remain, in state hands.â€ â€œThis could mean that the land won't be reserved at allâ€ Mr Amis said.
â€œWhy is Minister Jennings supporting the use of these herbicides by Hancock in a Reserve that the community has fought for over a decade to protect? Why isn't he making Hancock accountable for their activities in the Cores and Links Reserveâ€ Mr Amis concluded.
For more details contact; Anthony Amis (03) 9419 8700. Susie Zent 51 691 588.