The French Golf Federation (ffgolf) works very closely with AGREF (French Greenkeepers Association) on golf course matters. This relationship has proved to be extremely successful in achieving engagement with government and other key stakeholders. The latest joint project with the French Government is called the Epidemio – Surveillance. This programme aims to make golf and other land users more responsible users of pesticides, while also working to reduce overall usage over time. The Government have stipulated that there must be a 50% reduction in pesticide and fertiliser use in France by 2018. The project is administered by the Institut Ecoumène Golf & Environnement, a syndicate organisation of the French Ministry of Agriculture, AGREF and independent consultant agronomists.“
There must be a 50% reduction in pesticide use by 2018
The establishment of this body is an excellent example of national golf regulators working constructively with other professional organisations to develop golf’s environmental credentials. ffgolf and AGREF have been charged by the French Government to work more closely with the governing bodies of other turf-based sports in France. The most notable outcome of this is that a number of sports are co-operating on the Epidemio-Surveillance programme, which is overseen jointly by ffgolf and AGREF.
The Institute Ecoumène Golf & Environnement is responsible for all of the non-agricultural grassed areas in France, which are referred to as ZNA (zone non agricole). These include golf courses, football and Rugby pitches, horse racing tracks, cemeteries and public parks and gardens.
The programme aims to develop accountability, transparency and responsibility in chemical use through a recording protocol, managed by AGREF, which will build a knowledge base of the pesticides being used, in what quantities, where, when, under which circumstances and for what purpose. Through this recording process, the Institute will compile an accurate resource of the efficacy of chemical treatments and the most effective methods of maintaining healthy, disease-free turf. All golf courses have to adhere to this monitoring programme as a component of meeting the government’s chemical reduction targets. Reports are compiled and sent to the French Government each month.
As an increasingly detailed portfolio of information is developed, individual pesticides will be identified to be of low value and/or effectiveness and these will be presented to the Government as candidates for being banned. AGREF will work in collaboration with the French Government to remove pesticides which do not fulfil their intended function.
It is expected that, over time, many pesticides will be removed from the market, leaving only those that are essential, with proven efficacy and that can be applied responsibly and safely.
This pesticide initiative is a very positive example of a national federation and greenkeeping association working in collaboration to reach agreement with government on a sustainable future for the game. It also demonstrates the growing importance of keeping accurate records of chemical applications made by golf course managers.