Sudden spike in signatures on anti-herbicide spray petition | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Sudden spike in signatures on anti-herbicide spray petition

Herbicide is applied to a logged area after seedlings are replanted, a practice "Stop the Spray BC" is petitioning against.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / Doug Pitt, Natural Resources Canada
July 22, 2021 - 7:00 AM

The intense forest fire season and new interest from Ontario appear to have given a boost to a campaign urging B.C.'s government to stop spraying herbicide over its forests.

James Steidle has been part of a movement in the province for years, trying to urge the province to stop killing off aspen and other leafy trees and vegetation by dropping glyphosate — the main ingredient in the household chemical Round Up — on B.C.'s forests. An organization he works with started a petition in 2018, which got little attention. 

He said he has seen a sudden increase in signatures this year.

“There may be more interest in forest health due to fire activity," he said. "The petition is a long running one, but it still shows a lot of people want to see herbicide spraying stopped."

The “Stop the spray” petition  in B.C. has collected 126,910 signatures to date and continues to climb by almost ten signatures per day as more Canadians appear to be taking interest in the future of our forests.

Across Canada there are herbicide spray programs designed to kill the broad leafed plants and shrubs after a forest is harvested and prior to planting trees. Steidle says this activity is detrimental to forest ecosystems in several ways, especially in relation to aspen, a deciduous tree that grows from coast to coast. 

Steidle, a business owner in Prince George, has years of experience working in the forest sector.

“The reason we spray aspen is because they grow so fast,” he said. “But the aspen provides food for moose and other animals. It provides shade and has fire resistant leaves that keep forest temperatures cool. They are also more efficient at carbon sequestering than conifers are."

Greenpeace Canada started a similar stop the spray campaign in Ontario this year to help raise more awareness of the issue of herbicide use on forest land.

“Now that Greenpeace Canada is raising awareness in Ontario I think it is driving more traffic to the petition,” Steidle said. 

Steidle says Quebec banned the practice of herbicide application in forests in 2003, while Saskatchewan allows all of the deciduous shrubs and trees to remain in their cut blocks. The big forest production companies in British Columbia do not use aspen in their operations. The trunk diameter of aspen is more crooked, therefore, harder to get boards out of.

“Canfor does most of the spraying in the province and they don’t want to change what they do,” Steidle said. “They want to change the forest to suite their market objectives and maintain predictable supply. But aspen will produce more wood on the landscape, grow faster, feed animals and protect the forests.”

Steidle started the petition to raise awareness of the issue and educate the public. He is hoping for change on a government level but says he is not expecting it. He hopes the public will continue to take interest in the subject.

“I think it is hard for people to take interest in herbicide use because it ruins the story we tell our kids,” he said. “How we are good forest managers who plant trees to replace what we are taking. In fact, we are planting mostly pine trees and killing the aspen, which undermines the whole happy narrative. We have to start planting more diverse plant species and replace the deciduous component of our forests. We need to look at the bigger, ecological picture.”

To see or sign the petition, go here. 


To contact a reporter for this story, email Shannon Ainslie or call 250-819-6089 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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