The NSW government and National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) have been spraying and applying noxious chemicals including metsulfuron methyl, glyphosate and four others to control the outbreak of bitou bush (an invasive weed) since trials began near Jervis Bay in the 1980's. Metsulfuron methyl and glyphosate were found to be the only chemicals that had any effect on bitou bush and thus, are the two chemical used in aerial and ground spraying today.
A number of studies have been carried out on methods of spraying that are currently being undertaken by NPWS in mid-northern NSW. These studies outline that, "Repetitive use of metsulfuron methyl in annual applications is not recommended because of the residual effects of metsulfuron methyl and comparatively less information available on its impact to native species" (Toth & Winkler, 2008). Further studies back this up and also suggest that, "...information is still needed for many native plant species, particularly in relation to their response to metsulfuron methyl" (Toth & Winkler, 2008). Most scientific research on the effects of metsulfuron methyl on native flora and fauna suggest that a precautionary approach needs to be taken when spraying. This includes locating rare and threatened species prior to spraying so that they can be protected from any adverse impacts (Broese van Groenou and Downey, 2006). The effect of aerial spraying of glyphosate is also of concern as the effects on rare and endangered species is of particular significance. For example research by Matarczyk et al. (2002) found that spray drift from ground-based applications of glyphosate can adversely impact native plant populations such as Pimelea spicata that is an endangered species in NSW.
At present spraying and application occurs in Bundjalung, Yuraygir, Hat Head, Crowdy Bay, Botany Bay and Eurobodalla national parks. All of these areas are home to endemic, threatened and endangered flora & fauna as well of being of significant importance as areas of outstanding natural value to human beings. There is insufficient data on the impacts of spraying of metsulfuron methyl and glyphosate on native flora & fauna as well as on human health. Therefore we, the undersigned, are asking the NSW Minister for the Environment, Robyn Parker and Ms. Ann King, the deputy chief executive of the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, to put an instant moratorium on chemical spraying and application in NSW until further research into it's effects on flora & fauna, as well as human health are known. We also ask that the communities within the areas being sprayed are consulted prior to any spraying or application of these chemicals and that public forums are held where any concerns can be expressed.