It’s Time to Go Peat Free
I have, for several years, been very careful in my own garden to avoid peat based compost. Whilst gardeners continue to rave about it’s growing properties the problem is that though your flowers may be growing tall, the peat bogs are shrinking. And this is a SEVERE problem.
Peat bogs take million’s of years to grow and are said to increase by just one millimetre per year, yes, that’s a decade to get just 1cm of new peat bog. It is believed that 94per cent of lowland peat environments have already been destroyed, largely for the horticultural industry. Its use is changing however, and over the past few years the amount of peat based products has plummeted, with 54per cent of most garden compost bags now free of this precious material. However, whilst the use of peat in the last decade is said to have fallen by 20per cent, we’re still using it at an excessive rate; a rate which cannot be replenished.
A Snipe, one of peat bog's precious inhabitants. © Gidzy - Flickr
But why is the use of peat so awful? People the world over know of the plight of the rainforests. Of the devastation that loggers and plantations have caused to the abundant and iconic flora and fauna living in such environments. And whilst we may not be destroying the habitat of orangutans, tigers, and macaw’s by extracting peat, we’re destroying the home of creatures much closer to home. Gorgeous soaring skylarks, and secretive sneaking snipes are just two of the birds who call the peat bog habitat their own. Varieties of insects such as dragonflies and butterflies are only found in these ecosystems, as are incredible plant species such as sundews, bog myrtle, and butterworts. It is our responsibility to come to their aid, just as it is that we increase conservation awareness and reduce logging in forests around the world. And it is not just the flora and fauna that we are protecting but the climate too as, with the removal of peat creating carbon dioxide to be released in its tonnes, the world’s atmosphere is also coming under attack.
Hawker Dragonfly's are also under threat © Dominic's Pics - Flickr
One of the best ways to avoid peat is to build yourself a compost bin and make your own rich, loamy soil at home. Meanwhile be sure to avoid all peat based products at garden centre’s, taking care to look carefully at soil componant lists. B&Q recently revealed that they will no longer be stocking 100per cent peat compost bags; a fantastic step but still not far enough.
Defra are currently having a consultation on the use of peat across a range of industry’s and are looking for input, both commercial and personal. For their entire consultation document you can see the .pdf here. However, I’ve made it easy for you if you don’t want to, or can’t be bothered to read the whole thing. Simply save and fill out the answers to THIS form, send to Defra by March 11th, and get your voice heard. You don’t have to answer everything, you don’t have to write entire paragraphs. But whilst rainforests are being destroyed on the other side of the world, take the time to protect an environment on your own back doorstep.
(This post was originally published at The Guide to Gay Gardening)