Horticulture is the most significant consumer of peat using around 3 million m3 each year, with amateur gardeners consuming around 70% of peat in the UK. Peat is being removed at a greater rate than it can naturally be replaced causing vast environmental destruction. This is a major contributor to global warming and the associated climate crisis, therefore, it’s imperative every gardener should try and reduce their peat consumption for various reasons.
Climate change – Peat bogs are an important store for carbon and often are referred to as carbon sinks because their carbon storage capacity is enormous. They cover only 3% of the earth’s surface yet store 30% of the world’s carbon. When peat is mined and it oxidises all the carbon that was once stored within it, is released into the atmosphere contributing directly to the greenhouse effect.
Biodiversity – When peat is mined for gardeners to add to their soil it is disrupting and destroying wildlife habitats. This is often reflected in the loss of various breeding populations including flora and fauna.
"Every time you use a peat-based compost in the garden, you are deliberately participating in the destruction of a non-renewable environment that sustains some of our most beautiful plant and animal life. No garden on this earth is worth that." Monty Don
Water management – Peatlands play a major role in water resource management as they have the ability to store a considerable amount of global freshwater resources and are great for maintaining water quality. Over 70% of the UK’s drinking water comes from waterlogged peat areas and if they disappear water supplies will be affected along with a vast number of plant and animal species.
Peat blog depletion– Peat is formed over thousands of years and takes a significant amount of time to be replaced as it has a very slow accumulation rate – this is as little as 1mm each year. Therefore, when it’s harvested, and habitats are degraded it will take an extremely long time to regenerate naturally and thus is considered unsustainable.
- Archaeology – Peat offers great benefits for preservation and keeping a past record of past vegetation, landscapes and people.
Playing our part and going peat-free has vast environmental, social, and economic benefits. Using organic peat-free compost is the perfect way to begin your peat-free journey while encouraging retailers and government in their efforts to phase out the use of peat in gardening products will help to preserve our peatlands right across the UK and Ireland.