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Partnership approach to the reduction of pesticides

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Wednesday 01 June 2022

With the Committee for the Environment & Infrastructure keen to reduce the use of pesticides which have a negative impact on the wider natural environment, Agriculture, Countryside & Land Management Services (ACLMS) will be liaising with service areas across the States of Guernsey to review where pesticides are still being used on States-owned property.

This is the first step in a process which aims to evaluate the potential to reduce pesticide use and investigate where alternative approaches can be adopted.  The audit is being undertaken in partnership with Guernsey Water and the Pollinator Project.

Through the Strategy for Nature Fund, ACLMS is providing support to the Pollinator Project to undertake an audit of pesticide use outside of States-owned land and to explain the risks associated with pesticide use and promote sustainable alternatives.

This collaborative process aims to provide a picture of pesticide use by businesses and the public across the whole of Guernsey. This can then be used to target information to reduce the impact of pesticides and to measure any reduction in their use over the coming years.

It is hoped that a scientific research project already piloted in the Bailiwick by Dr Miranda Bane from Bristol University will continue to assess the impact of such a reduction on local pollinator populations through a research grant from an external funding agency.

Louise Gabriel, co-director of the Pollinator Project, commented:

"We have set up 'Pesticide Free Guernsey', are researching pesticide use on island and in conjunction with the University of Bristol are studying pollinator populations. The data gathered through this audit will help us understand the relationship between pesticide use and pollinator populations. We're also educating people on the harm that pesticides do to our environment and encourage natural alternatives to weedkillers and bug sprays."

Julia Henney, Biodiversity Officer, commented:

"Over the years we have seen individual pesticides being removed from sale as evidence about their environmental impact becomes apparent, unfortunately usually to be replaced quickly by another pesticide in an ongoing cycle. The new approach being promoted, which aims to move away from using pesticides or, where they are necessary, promoting their appropriate use, is one which should see a more sustainable way of managing the Island and much greater benefits for the Island's wildlife and community."

As well as the benefits to nature that are predicted by a reduction in pesticide use, Islanders would also benefit directly through a continued supply of clean drinking water. Earlier this year Guernsey Water raised concerns about the levels of pesticide in Vale Pond and launched the 'Don't Spray: There's a Better Way' campaign to raise awareness of alternative ways to control weeds.

Margaret McGuinness, Water Quality Risk Manager at Guernsey Water, highlighted that alternatives such as the use of mulches, hand-pulling of weeds or applying eco-friendly approaches can have a great impact.

"Something simple can help to get rid of most weeds and avoids the impacts of pesticides. We hope that Islanders can help reduce pesticides to avoid any potential need for investment in expensive water treatment technologies. That way we can avoid it being a case of 'spray now, pay later'."

 

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