Pesticides, and the use thereof, has become an increasingly controversial topic. There are numerous reasons for this, including:
- A better scientific understanding of pesticides, their modes of action and the wider implications they might have;
- Information regarding the use and impact of pesticides is more readily available; and
- Wider society is being increasingly exposed to the potential impacts of pesticides.
As a result, there is a global trend to reduce the reliance on pesticides across all agricultural sectors, including forestry. This trend is one of the key drivers for a resilient research programme.
Furthermore, most of the forestry industry in South Africa subscribes to accreditation schemes such as the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC®) and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC). These ensure sustainability targets are achieved, which include a reduced reliance and limited availability of pesticides.
Commercial forestry strives to reduce its reliance on pesticides and only uses and applies those that are deemed environmentally and socially acceptable. However, this journey is not without its challenges as forestry in South Africa is relatively small compared to agriculture. As a result, it is not economically viable for chemical companies to invest in research for such a small market.
To this end, the SA forestry industry has taken on this research role, thus adopting a pro-active approach to pesticide use and pesticide research. This means that new products are always being tested and better application methods are also being investigated.
Through TIPWG, the local forestry industry is building much-needed capacity and knowledge in the field of pesticide use.