Chemical conundrum

People are agitating online (and elsewhere) for an end to herbicide spraying in the forest. This is a tough one for the forest companies, which rely on such treatments to meet their reforestation targets. Simply put, the conifer seedlings don’t do very well when they are overwhelmed by faster-growing trees and shrubs (mainly aspen, poplar and willow). The companies are obligated (by the government) to have those spruce forests up to a certain height in a certain number of years. That’s how it’s done. Does it have to be?

The anti-herbicide people have a probably quite legitimate dislike of chemicals used on such a scale. So, the dilemma.

What to do? There are alternatives to chemicals, but they are almost certainly much more expensive. Other types of chemicals? There’s a debate to be had here, and we look forward to seeing how and where it goes. The antis need to acknowledge – for one thing – that what they are proposing may result in tipping an industry into the red. Jobs may be at stake. They might not want to hear this, but they need to acknowledge it.

On the other side industry needs to come clean on chemicals, if in fact it hasn’t. In any case, it is well aware that it operates under ‘public license,’ and is required to seek public input into forest management strategies. It’s worth noting here that not many people show up to the open houses these companies organize. That itself can indicate that the public is generally uninterested (and therefore tacitly in favour) of whatever is going on.

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