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New tool monitors chemical risk factors

A Tasmanian adaptation of the CSIRO’s Pesticide Impact Rating Index (PIRI), which analyses the mobility and toxicity of chemicals according to site, operational and climatic conditions, is one of the latest aids for forestry workers.
PIRI Project Officer Erin Trainer and Manager Field Services Dr Peter Volker illustrated how PIRI-Tas would be applied to State forest during the computer program’s official release.
Trainer said PIRI-Tas would allow staff to make decisions on pesticide use based on risk assessment, with the capacity to alter plans to reduce the risk.
“FT has a longstanding commitment to reducing chemical use in plantations, to help protect the environment. Where the application of chemicals, such as pesticides, is necessary to ensure the health or productivity of a plantation, we must meet targets under our Australian Forestry Standard certification to minimise environmental harm.
“PIRI-Tas will be of immense assistance to FT staff working to achieve these goals,” Trainer said.
“FT’s policy is to carry out water quality monitoring at sites where there may be a risk associated with pesticide use.
“PIRI-Tas will provide our staff with a scientific means of identifying those sites, allowing our water monitoring resources to be effectively targeted,” Trainer said.
Dr Volker said that FT had been a key player in the collaborative research project that adapted PIRI for use in Tasmania.
“Between 1993 and 2007, FT undertook an extensive water monitoring program in areas where chemicals had been applied. This data was invaluable in adapting PIRI for use in Tasmania.”