AGM celebration dampened by concerns
Original Post 22 October 2014
Feelings were running high at a recent announcement of a grant for the injection of Coral Trees (Erythrina x sykesii) with synthetic herbicides along Wilsons Creek and Coopers Creek. While Wilson Creek/Huonbrook Land-care Inc. was celebrating its score of $99,800 grant at its AGM on Wednesday September 3rd, some concerned residents with river-side properties informed the group that they did not want synthetic pesticides used in their local catchment because it imposes a serious and escalating threat to biodiversity and water catchment values.
Replacing one threat with another
“What is the point of removing one threat, Coral Trees, and introducing another, synthetic pesticide?”, said Don, a local organic farmer who is well on the way to completing rainforest regeneration of his 177 acres. “At least I can see Coral Trees. I have counted at least 5 species of local birds feeding on them” he continued. “However the impact of this pesticide on non-target species – soil organisms, animals, plants, in our local ecosystem – is unknown and not immediately visible. It is being done on the assumption that it will be OK and we do not believe research into the product shows this”, say Don.
The poison plan
Over a period of three years, WCHL intends to work on private properties along Coopers and Wilsons Creeks along Huonbrook, Wanganui, and Wilson Creek Roads east to the junction with Montecollum Road. The project intends to inject hundreds of Coral Trees with a glyphosate-based product. When Don asked about the quantity of herbicide per tree, he was told by ‘bush regenerator’ Phil that it would be 1-2L per tree, depending on tree size.
In the 1970s, Glyphosate was registered by Monsanto, a huge agrochemical corporation (also manufacturer of Aspartame, Agent Orange, PCBs, Roundup-ready GMOs, and the owner of the largest mercenary army in the world, Blackwater, now called ‘Academy’). For decades, Monsanto marketed glyphosate as being safe for human health and as breaking down rapidly in contact with soil. Recent independent peer-reviewed research has demonstrated that neither of these claims is true.
The poison project meaningless
At the meeting, WCHL recognize that they will not be able to complete the aim of the project’ to permanently remove coral trees from upper reaches of creeks in a strategically managed operation’ where landowners do not agree to the use of pesticide. This, of course, makes the project meaningless as any trees remaining within the proposed area are likely to respread with each flood. Nevertheless, they intend to go ahead.
A chemical-free compromise
So, some local residents are requesting WCHL to compromise, by dividing the funding fairly amongst chemical and chemical-free approaches. “We are developing a chemical-free Wilsons Creek landcare group in order to participate in this project and to demonstrate and monitor successful alternative techniques which have already been used on some properties”, explains local resident Samb Brown who lives in a community adjacent to Huonbrook Creek which does not give permission to WCHL to inject Coral trees on their land. Samb has been involved in the past in eradicating coral trees without chemicals.
She added that it would be an excellent opportunity to create employment for chemical free bush regenerators and showcase chemical-free techniques and caring for our country sustainably.
What can you do?
Any resident from these areas who wants to use a chemical free approach for eradication of Coral Trees or who would like more information on available independent research on the dangers of glyphosate for our health and the environment, please email us
By Nadia de Souza Pietramale
Chemical-free bush regenerator
Consideration of Poisoning of Coral Trees at Wilsons and Coopers Creeks
There is information (see below) that nitrogen fixing trees such as the Coral tree naturally appear in great numbers in wet areas, particularly wetlands, so their appearance alongside creeks is a natural occurrence. People wishing to poison them need to be asked why they are resisting the regeneration obviously being carried out by the coral trees in that the trees volunteer to add more nitrogen to the soil than if the coral trees were not there? They also need to be asked whether they are aware that parrots in particular feed from its flowers? Coral trees, like camphors and wattles are pioneers. They improve soil and shade levels for climax communities. These pioneers can all be expected to go into recession when they are shaded out by the climax communities.
Our chemical-free method of bush regeneration is to leave the coral trees alone and see them as a benefit. Native trees are planted among them to take advantage of their nitrogen. Branches can be lopped strategically from the coral trees to allow in light if that is preferred. Lopped branches are stacked in pyramid fashion so they are not in contact with soil to prevent the branches re-sprouting.
If poisoning of the trees takes place without replacing them with other nitrogen fixing trees, their removal is obviously land degradation practice. The culture we live in has a pathological resistance to returning organic matter to soil (see appended article, Biodiversity conservation and soil organic matter), and the removal of trees that volunteer to fix nitrogen can be seen as the continuation of the culture’s resistance to provisioning soil. Replacing them is not just a case of one tree planted for every tree removed, it is a case of planting the amount of biomass removed. It is far easier, and in accord with the regeneration that the coral trees offer, to just plant natives among them.
The following may be of interest in regard to coral trees:
“A German chemist, Fritz Haber, won the Nobel Prize in 1918 for discovering a method by which nitrogen could be obtained from the atmosphere, of which it forms about four-fifths. His discovery enabled Germany to fight World War 1 in spite of being cut off from the only previously known supplies of commercial nitrogen fertilizer, chiefly guano deposits. Ever since then, men have been able to get all the nitrogen they need from the air.
“Jungles knew all about it, and legumes too, millions of years before there were men. On soils deficient in nutritive elements, the tropical rain forest grows a great number of leguminous plants; they can be, and often are, the very biggest of jungle trees, such as the huge tropical acacias. It has been recorded that in two British Guiana jungle areas, which were either swampy and waterlogged or even more badly leached than usual, more than half of all the trees were of this type. In three other areas nearby, neither as badly leached nor as marshy, the proportion of leguminous trees ranged only from 14 to 33 percent.” [Ivan Sanderson’s Book of Great Jungles Julian Messner, New York, 1965, pp. 104, 105.]
We occupy a sub-tropical region rather than tropical. Nevertheless, this region because of land-clearing suffers major loss of nutrients through leaching. Coral trees, as leguminous trees in this region are also not engaged in growing above canopy height unlike what leguminous trees appear to do in the tropics. In sub-tropical areas we can expect the coral trees as sun-lover to die out as the native canopy closes. Even if they do not, is that a major problem with a strong native canopy? If it is a problem purely on the basis that coral trees are not native, then I would suggest it is a prejudice toward the plant world not unlike that ascribed to ethnic cleansing of humans.
Furthermore, Monsanto does not disappear from protest. It has less impact the more it is not subscribed to.
(Chemical-free bush regeneration consultant for Byron Environment Centre)
Download pdf article on the role of weeds in Biodiversity Conservation and Soil Organic Matter