Pesticide Free Towns: European policies, local strategies and future perspectives on 27 September at the European Parliament
A total ban in the use of chemical pesticides in public areas: this is what European MEPs and Mayors have been clamoring during the round table "Pesticides free towns: European policies, local strategies and future perspectives", which took place at the European Parliament in Brussels last 27 September.
Organized by PAN Europe (Pesticide Action Network), in collaboration with the coordinator of the Agriculture Committee Nicola Caputo, the president of the Pesticide Committee Eric Andrieu and the vice president of the Environment Committee, Pavel Poc, the event was a precious opportunity for inspiration and comparison.
The highlight of the meeting was the signing of a joint declaration in order to call the European Commission for a total ban of chemical pesticides in public areas. "A dutiful act of great responsibility towards European citizens, especially the weakest groups, such as children" - says Nicola Caputo.
Very interesting the presentations of the speakers, from the case of Malles, the first European Municipality to have called a popular referendum for a total ban of pesticides, to that of Occhiobello, the first Municipality to join the PFT Network. Ivan Stomeo, president of the Association of Borghi Autentici d’Italia, highlighted how a green policy can have a positive impact on local economy and on the tourist appeal of towns, while Luis Newton, president of the Estrela district (Lisbon) illustrated alternative methods to glyphosate used in its territory. The mayor of the Belgian municipality of Watermael Boitsfort, Olivier Deleuze, spoke about the initiatives taken to actively involve citizens in a path free from pesticides.
The meeting was, therefore, a concrete and effective example of how different realities can be the spokesman of shared needs: protecting public health and the environment.
Interview with Ivan Stomeo - President Associazione Borghi Autentici d’Italia
Why a partnership between Borghi Autentici d’Italia and the Pesticide Free Towns Network?
By signing the Manifesto of Borghi Autentici d’Italia, our Municipalities undertake to develop, together with our Association, concrete actions in order to contribute to the socio-economic development of their territories and to improve the quality of life of their citizens, also from an environmental and public health point of view. The agreement with the European Pesticide Free Towns Network, therefore, is fully coherent with all the actions promoted by us and helps our municipalities in improving the quality of life of their local communities (Read more)...
New towns in the Pesticide Free Towns Network
Thanks to the partnership signed with the Associazione Borghi Autentici d'Italia, another 15 cities have joined the European Network of Pesticide Free Cities.
A concrete step that demonstrates how many municipalities have undertaken an environmental policy based on sustainability, to protect the health of their citizens and the biodiversity of their territory.
Here, below, the 15 beautiful villages that have decided to protect their artistic beauties by including them in a broader vision of land protection: Melpignano, Aggius, Cassano Murge, Copertino, Fallo, Galatone, Matino, Miglierina, Salve, Sorradile, Roseto Capo Spulico, Acquaviva delle Fonti, Biccari, Montesegale, Aradeo, Forni di Sotto, Montesano Salentino.
The PFT Network in Croatia
Following the good example of Italy also the Municipality of Zagreb decided to join the Pesticide free Towns Network.
“The Mayor of Zagreb, Milan Bandić, in his desire to enhance the quality of life of its citizens, has recognized the importance to ban the use of pesticides in public green areas and decided to join the Mayors across Europe who are involved in the Pesticide Free Towns Network”.
These are the words we love the most, because, following the example of Zagreb, also the city of Ozalj joined the Network. Welcome Zagreb and welcome Ozalj!
PFT Network and Borghi Autentici d’Italia
PFT Network and Borghi Autentici d'Italia have signed an agreement to help many Italian villages to go free pesticide. Borghi Autentici d'Italia is an association that brings together small and medium-sized municipalities, local authorities and local development bodies, around the goal of a model of sustainable development, respectful of places and people and attentive to the enhancement of local identities. The goal: to rediscover the Italian villages as places to live, sustain and preserve. All the municipalities of Borghi Autentici are invited to join the PFT Network for a better quality of life, for a better Europe.
Trentino Alto Adige, a virtuous place
Good examples must always be followed. And that's exactly what happened in Trentino Alto Adige where the Italian village of Mals set an international precedent and a model for other communities to follow. In fact the citizens of Mals and their forward-thinking mayor, Ulrich, joined forces to become the first place in the world to ban all synthetic pesticides by a referendum vote. The Municipality of Bolzano, not far from Mals, has followed the same direction and, after having abolished the glyphosate in compliance with the National Plan, has decided to use only natural products for the weeding of public areas. In the development of this pesticide free path, the municipality of Bolzano has decided to join the Free Pesticide Towns Network.
A journey of a thousand-mile begins with a single step
The European Pesticide Free Towns Network grows: four new towns have decided to say no to the use of chemical pesticides in common areas and to protect the health of their citizens. Volvera, Barge (Piedmont) and Bastida Pancarana (Lombardy), Guardia Sanframondi (Campania): four small Italian jewels united by a sustainable policy and by the use of alternative methods to chemical pesticides. A further testimony of commitment aiming at the envision of a Europe without pesticides. Because a journey of a thousand-mile begins with a single step.
Alternative techniques to pesticides: we gave the floor to the Municipalities
“For some time now, our best practice has been to replace glyphosate with asteam burner at 400 °C for weeding purposes in public green areas” told us the environmental councillor of Ragusa. “We also use electric brushcutters, hedge trimmers and shredders in order to leave the mowing directly on site”.
“In green public areas we use only vinegar and manual / mechanical methods, without any use of chemical products. We encountered lower costs in obtaining the material, but also a greater work commitment (more hours to be dedicated). Obviously this choice brings health and environmental benefits” - told us the mayor of Lozzolo, Vercelli, ing. Sella.
"Manual, steam and fire weeding are the methods we use the most in our Municipality" - told us Filippo Moretto from the environment office of Occhiobello, Rovigo. "In relation to sustainability objectives related to a social background held on the United Nations sustainable development agenda, we have now decided to favor the manual work of disadvantaged operators or of those experiencing difficulties in finding a job (ex. People in their fifties/ sixties who have lost their jobs, socially useful workers, people followed by municipal social services, migrants ...).
The Mayor of Morozzo, Mauro Fissore says: "It’s been a year since we stopped using pesticides in public areas in our Municipality: gardens, sidewalks etc. are freed from weeds using mechanical means, brush cutters, very often even tearing them out manually. It requires hard work, of course".
"We have not yet completely banned chemical pesticides in our public areas, but we are close to reaching this goal" says Mario Dalmasso, environmental councillor of Robilante. "Manual weeding for now is the only alternative we are putting in place, especially thanks to the help of the migrants we host in our town".
"Since 2015, thanks to a municipal ordinance, we have banned the use of glyphosate in the whole town, so for our parks and gardens we use just manual weeding" - told us the Mayor of Casalduni, Benevento, Pasquale Iacovella.
An unanimously voting for the town of Morozzo
Another Italian town joins the Pesticide Free Towns Network: Morozzo, Piedmont. The Mayor, Mauro Fissore, told us: "We have unanimously voted for participation in the Pesticide Free Towns Network and we will work to implement initiatives in order to raise awareness among our citizens about this environmental and health emergency. We are a predominantly agricultural village, which is why we are particularly interested in starting this path with you. Thanks for this opportunity”.
Lozzolo: wine, nature and sustainable development
Lozzolo is a nice, small village in the province of Vercelli, Italy. It is surrounding by beautiful hills and vineyards and it is famous for a red wine with a suggestive name: Bramaterra.
It’s been a year since the town of Lozzolo has banned chemical pesticides in its public areas, becoming pesticide free. The Mayor, Roberto Sella, has decided to join the Pesticide Free Towns Network in order to improve a policy in relation to the environment and sustainable development and for the further promotion of environmental awareness.
We give Lozzolo a hearty and warm welcome in our family. What better way to celebrate the New Year?
Varese: a beautiful and sustainable town
When a city is endowed with such natural beauty it cannot but preserve it. That's why we are particularly happy to welcome the city of Varese in the Pesticide Free Towns Network. We wish to extend a heartfelt thank you to the Environment Councilor, Dino De Simone, for his great support.
Varese has always been attentive to environmental policies and sustainability, so, starting from today, there’s a further reason to visit this wonderful Italian town, rich in castles and in beautiful landscapes.
The Municipality of Varese wrote us to be totally “agree on the need to reduce the use of chemical pesticides in cities as indicated and / or prescribed by several European directives and regulations and by the National Action Plan for the sustainable use of pesticides”. Their participation in the Pesticide Free Towns Network is a further, important step towards the sustainability.
PAN Europe welcomes Ragusa to the Pesticide Free Towns Network
The Municipality of Ragusa, in Sicily, has signed the pledge to join the Pesticide Free Towns Network. In doing that the town of Ragusa is committed to achieve a significant reduction of pesticide use in its public areas, to promote campaigns aimed at informing citizens about the transition to become pesticide-free, to exchange good practices and experience with other European towns. “Our Municipality always gave a great importance to the environment" – says Antonio Zanotto, the person in charge of the green areas of Ragusa. "We already use sustainable alternatives to glyphosate and this project is a great opportunity to us to develop our vision and to share good practices in order to protect the environment and to have a better quality of life”.
The town of Robilante joins the Pesticide Free Towns Network
Launched a few days ago in Italy, the Pesticide Free towns project has already found important adhesions. After the municipalities of Malles (BZ) and Occhiobello (RO) it is the turn of Robilante, in the province of Cuneo.
The picturesque town of Piedmont has an ancient water mill for milling corn and offers visitors beautiful landscapes and three museums: the museum of the accordion, the railway museum and the museum of sound and communication.
By joining the Pesticide Free towns Network, the municipality of Robilante reaffirms its commitment to ban pesticides in the common areas of the territory, using mainly manual weeding. One more reason to visit it and to taste its excellent polenta!
"Going pesticide free it is not only possible but beneficial!" Municipality of Occhiobello
"Our first step towards a sustainable future was... a step back! In particular a step back from business as usual, starting reconsidering every single public work aiming at minimizing its environmental impact. Walking that way, pest control turned into integrated pest management and the role of pesticides become naturally irrelevant. Public decisions are assumed as consequence of a fact driven approach and the Municipality is now involved also in a scientific work in collaboration with local and regional health authorities. Going pesticides free it is not only possible but beneficial! As Daniele Chiarioni, Mayor of the Municipality of Occhiobello, underlines: “Going pesticides free it requires a strong effort towards innovative practices and the involvement of the population. It implies a new perception of the territory, where the health of our future generation and a safe environment can not be compared with an artificial cleanliness of public spaces. There is also an aesthetic value to consider, when we foster a natural environmental equilibrium of territory” Since Summer 2015 herbicide use has been being phased-out and replaced by mechanical, manual and steam and flame approaches to weed management." Municipality of Occhiobello, May 2017
First steps towards a pesticide-free Edinburgh!
“The City of Edinburgh Council has undertaken trials to investigate alternatives to the use of herbicides in controlling weeds in its streets, parks and public open spaces. As a result, from Spring 2017 herbicide use is being phased-out and replaced by more mechanical, manual and mulching approaches to weed management. In other, more natural areas, weeds will be increasingly tolerated as part of the city’s Living Landscape” David Jamieson, Head of Parks, Greenspace & Cemeteries, City of Edinburgh Council, April 2017.