Canadian Forest Service Publications

Aerial forest herbicide application: comparative assessment of risk mitigation strategies in Canada. 2012. Thompson, D.; Leach, J.; Noel, M.; Odsen, S.; Mihajlovich, M. The Forestry Chronicle 88(2):176-184.

Year: 2012

Issued by: Great Lakes Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 33731

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

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Herbicide use in forest management is subject to controversy due to potential risks to human and environmental health. Provinces with substantial forest herbicide use are the focus of this comparative assessment of risk mitigation strategies for aerial application of forestry herbicides. This paper explores risk mitigation procedures surrounding treatment prescriptions, herbicide planning and permitting, and operational treatment, against a background of legislative and regulatory requirements. The three major-use provinces have similarly high levels of risk mitigation, including detailed herbicide application plan requirements, use of electronic guidance systems, buffering of environmental sensitivities, pre-spray reconnaissance flights and post-spray auditing. Notable differences include standardizing use of rotary-wing aircraft, use of low-drift nozzles, the rigor applied to aircraft calibration and use of block monitors for detailed meteorological monitoring. These techniques are generally unique to Alberta and are considered best management practices. The routine use of validated aerial dispersal and expert decision support systems (e.g., AgDisp, SprayAdvisor) is recommended, as it could provide significant added value to generic and spatially explicit risk mitigation with multiple applications. It is the opinion of the authors that aerial herbicide applications as performed in all three major-use jurisdictions are highly protective of human and environmental health.