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Staying in control

| July 31, 2014

The times they are a’changing are the words from a song by Bob Dylan and, without doubt, change is a fact of life. It is how we respond to it that makes the difference. In the world of weed, pest and disease control in the UK, recent policy changes and legislation, linked especially to the Sustainable Use and Water Framework Directive, are impacting on everyone involved in the amenity sector. It is important that all commit themselves to best practice.

Staying in Control_138_page1_image2The Amenity Forum is the voluntary initiative for the sector in the UK. It is funded by member organisations includ- ing manufacturers, distributors, contractors, trade associations, local authorities and more. These bodies are demonstrating their commitment to best practice and the Forum continues to expand on this, aiming to engage everyone to further increase its influence and fully represent the sector’s interests in this important area. If everyone can demonstrate that it can respond and drive up standards by voluntary action, it is far better than having it imposed.

The amenity sector is an extremely diverse one, responsible for the landscape management of urban areas, highways and rail network, sports grounds, parks, industrial and utility sites. To establish and maintain these areas to a high standard the sector requires access to pesticides, efficient equipment, trained and qualified staff. The Amenity Forum seeks to be the collective body representing the amenity industry in the UK, in relation to and including pest control.

Forum objectives

  • The key objectives of the Amenity Forum are as follows:
  • To promote and encourage proper and responsible use of pesticides and integrated methods for the control of pests, weeds and diseases.
  • To lead, coordinate and encourage achievement of “Best Practice” objectives in amenity.
  • To coordinate and encourage the establishment of sustainable qualifications, training and CPD activity, specifically for the amenity sector.
  • To organise activities within the Amenity Forum membership and linked organisations, such that Amenity Forum objectives are developed in a coordinated way.
  • To lobby and consult with key stakeholders including national governments.
  • To act as the Amenity sector focus for disseminating best practice, encouraging the use of Amenity Assured as an industry standard, and promoting self regulation and independent industry auditing

The Forum, with assistance from the Chemicals Regulation Directorate, has recently produced what it calls ‘The Ten Golden Rules’, a full copy of which can be found on the forum website. They are not comprehensive but hopefully establish the key factors to be considered. They have application to everyone involved.

Staying in Control_138_page1_image1

The Forum is also developing international links especially in Europe. It is important that we seek to develop common approaches and consensus on the important issues. It is equally important to ensure policy decisions are based upon well researched and documented evidence. Effective weed, pest and disease control is vital in maintaining our amenity areas. Speaking at a recent European conference, the author became aware of a wide range of responses to change such as that arising from the Sustainable Use Directive. We need to be united not divided. Perhaps there is scope for a European Amenity Forum?

Recent changes in legislation and other challenges are highlighting even further the need for very best practice in weed, pest and disease control. It is recommended that, at every level, all operate at a standard equivalent to that required to become Amenity Assured in the UK, and that specifiers seek out those who can deliver to such standards. It demonstrates commitment to best practice in the same way as being able to show membership of the Amenity Forum and for what it stands.

If the sector itself can demonstrate its commitment, it will stay in control and ensure that we maximise the choices available for weed, pest and disease control. However, everyone needs to act. The annual conference of the Amenity Forum will be held on October 16th at Leicester City Football Club, Leicester, UK. This has become very much a must attend event with excellent speakers covering the hot topics, and an accompanying exhibition area with a wide range of stands offering information and advice. The conference title this year very aptly is ‘Staying in Control’. Times may continue to be a’changing but if we all act correctly, we can demonstrate a responsible sector and who knows, create opportunity out of the change.

For further information, contact Alan. Spedding@amenityforum.net or visit www.amenityforum.co.uk.

Author: Professor John Moverley – Independent Chairman, Amenity Forum

Published in International Pest Control – May/June 2014 issue

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Category: Horticulture-Amenity