PSHB Fungicide has been registered. What a relief!

This changes the dynamics at play quite dramatically for many of the responses to PSHB Infestation have been based on the absence of a registered PSHB Fungicide. Now that it has been registered, how does this shift where I put my energy?

From the beginning my focus has been placed on preserving forests and planting forests and food forests, so this means that I continue from where I started. In response to the PSHB infestation my emphasis will continue to be to feed our trees what they need in order to improve and maintain their immunity. The reality is that besides PSHB, some trees are infested by termites and others by black aphid it seems. In a context of climate challenges pests are to be expected and so understanding the needs of trees is the first step to tree longevity.

Generally, creating mulch beds or wells at the base of trees is the primary action that strengthens their immunity. What to include in the mix is a matter of debate and preference for there are many systems of knowledge available, including permaculture knowledge and Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS). These can support an approach that favours western scientific knowledge. While I generally prefer IKS this does not mean that I am ignorant of the significant role that western science plays, especially in identifying and measuring what nutritional elements are missing in general as well as specifically. Such knowledge takes guessing out of play.

PSHB Fungicide is a case in point. When I met Mike Viviers, who piloted the tests that I assume supported the application for registration, I knew that he believed in this product. I also knew that he loves trees, loves forests. I was ambivalent about the PSHB Fungicide when I learnt that it was a nanotechnology. Having attended one of the workshops Mike arranged I sensed that the technology is a powerful tool that can be used for good. And for evil. As can all things.

So last night when I saw the message announcing the registration, I felt elated. I wanted to dance and did so in my head! Surprised I was at how happy I felt for I wasn’t sure until that moment if the ancestors would approve it. Could they possibly authorize the use of something with the potential to create a greater mess than we have already, if used irresponsibly? By people ignorant? By people greedy?

I woke up sober. My sense remains that every advance we make in knowledge is an evolutionary step that enhances our ability to manipulate nature for human advantage. Yet in the absence of an ethics that enforces respect for all of life, such power also offers opportunities to take advantage of the weak, the powerless…Nature left to itself balances the elements in eco-systems. Yet urban habitations are not natural spaces. They are the result of human creativity and thus require a humane ethics to re-negotiate power.

This then is my topic for today: Now that PSHB Fungicide has been registered how do we ensure that it is used responsibly? We know that fungicides in general are to contain the spread of fungal diseases. We know too that PSHB Fungicide is best applied to bark. In soil PSHB Fungicide is a disaster for it destroys healthy bacteria. My questions thus are:

What labels should accompany the product? Who can apply it? Only licensed arborists? Can we add horticulturalists, landscapers, chemists? Is this unrealistic? Is it elitist? If so, can people not be trained to use it safely? Can they be certified? In the absence of government interest, who would confer certificates?  Who can develop standards? Who can act as ombudsman? Who can provide oversight?

Who are the stakeholders?

I am good at raising questions. And excellent at making up my mind as to how I want to proceed when making decisions in my own life. Yet this isn’t helpful when I live as but one person amongst many. I do not live alone on an island of my own. Even I, a sangoma, have to comply with by-laws. And be cognizant of best practice. It can be irksome at times for I want to install a compost toilet on my property yet may not do so. Not even if I comply with international best practice, for humanure is not something I may dispose of at the local dump site. It needs a designated site.