Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Asulam gets a reprieve

Asulam, a herbicide marketed under the name of Asulox, has been used for bracken spraying for forty years. Last summer I saw a helicopter spraying in the Vale of Ffestiniog and my gut reaction was surely this must be bad for wildlife? But having looked into it, I’m not so sure. I have been told that it is highly specific to bracken (and other ferns) causing no damage to insects. It has also been used by organisations such as the RSPB and the National Trust.

Its use after December 2012 was banned by the EU with no replacement product likely until 2016. Without Asulam, and the use of aerial spraying, it is expected that large areas of the Welsh uplands will be lost to bracken at the rate of about 1,000 hectares a year. The decision was made in Brussels but do the UK government and the various conservation bodies agree with it?

Apparently not and the UK Chemical Regulations Directorate has given emergency authorisation for its use this summer and will do so for future years until the replacement product becomes available.

For in depth coverage of this issue there is a very informative site run by the Bracken Control Group which as you would expect has been campaigning for the use of Asulam.

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