Members Support Revised Pesticides Policy

What’s new about the proposed revised policy is that it takes a risk-based approach to using pesticides that looks at the toxicity level of an active ingredient in the pesticide and how it is used to determine its level of risk.

By Jesse Cruz, FSC International

One of the most serious threats facing forests are pests – both insects and diseases. Primarily as a consequence of increased global trade, pests are imported along with traded goods coming in and out of different countries. These pests can be a real problem, not just for FSC-certified forests, but also for the trees in our gardens, parks, and city streets. To prevent, destroy, or control pests in FSC-certified forests, forest managers are required to follow strict rules. 

First, forest managers must seek to use cultural controls, mechanical controls, and biological controls. These are natural measures known in the forestry community to have minimal impact, and they are the preferred methods of the Forest Stewardship Council and other global organizations such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). 

After applying these measures, and only under certain circumstances – such as a sudden invasion or infestation of pests or by government order – the use of pesticides is permitted, if they are deployed using best practices. These rules are in place to prevent adverse impacts of pesticide use on the health of forests, humans, and the environment. 

A group of technical experts and stakeholders – including government, Indigenous Peoples, NGOs, academics, and FSC members – representing social, economic, and environmental interests in equal proportions is revising current FSC Pesticides Policy that was first enacted in 2005. The group has released a first draft of the revised FSC Pesticides Policy (Draft 1-0) for public consultation. 

The result? 

Some pesticides are banned altogether. Others can only be used after considering the environmental and social impacts through a risk assessment, and after ensuring that the right mitigation measures are in place for correct implementation. 

“Members are quite supportive of the idea,” says Rina Guadagnini of the Pesticide Action Network UK, and one of nine members and technical experts tasked to revise the policy. “We’re proposing a new approach which prioritize the pesticides listed by FSC according to their toxicity, prohibiting the most hazardous and restricting the others.” 

The working group and technical experts used their side event at the FSC General Assembly 2017 to discuss with members the risk-based approach to the Pesticides Policy. The consultation opened on 31 July 2017 and is open until 29 October 2017.