Blawhorn Moss NNR and Flanders Moss NNR
2020 was meant to be a notable year in the conservation of peatlands. In 2011 DEFRA set a voluntary target that the Scottish Government also sign-up to for the phasing out of all retail sales peat used in gardens by 2020. And by 2030 horticulture would no longer be using peat.
The reality is that now we are in 2020, at the time of an escalating climate emergency and a declining biodiversity, peat mining in actually increasing rather than decreasing. Some 0.5 million cubic tons of peat is ripped out of bogs each year in Scotland and another 0.3 million in England. But that only accounts for a third of the peat used in the UK. Half of all peat is imported from Ireland and 8% from elsewhere in Europe.
Every gram of the 2 million cubic tons of peat that the UK uses every year has come from a peat bog just like Flanders Moss and Blawhorn Moss. Every gram of peat dug up releases carbon in the atmosphere so accelerating the changes in the climate. And every bog dug up means less habitat for special wildlife, less wetlands to help soak up rain fall and reduce flooding and less beautiful places for us to visit and enjoy. Flanders Moss was so close to being dug up just to be scattered across gardens. In the 1970s a large area was prepared for peat extraction before being saved by SNH. What could have been lost forever is now a recovering, wildlife-rich place, offsetting man’s impact of the climate and enjoyed by thousands of people every year.
And it doesn’t have to happen. There are many modern peat-free composts that work just as well as peat for gardening purposes. There are nurseries that don’t sell plants grown in peat. And many people have the satisfying opportunity to make their own growing mediums by composting at home – saving money and saving bogs, so what is not to like?
So with peat harvesting companies, garden centres and plant nurseries ignoring the impacts of their actions and until the governments ban the mining of peat, it is down to us. We can save bogs by not using peat in our gardens but by becoming composting heroes. Market forces can change the business decisions at a very rapid rate. So how about a bit of direct action to save the bogs and go peat-free in the garden (more info here). You could:
– get your compost heap going and use what is produced for growing plants and as a soil conditioner – more info here.
– when next at a garden centre of plant nursery ask for and only buy peat-free products and plants not grown in peat. A list of peat-free compost products is here ( just scroll down)
– better still if you are able use a peat-free garden centre. For list here.
You might not be Chris Packham or Greta Thunberg but you can do your bit and happily garden away at the same time.