Save our Peat to Save our Planet

The Edge, Kinder

The peat bogs of the British Isles contain more carbon than all the forests of France and Germany combined. It is vital that we keep them in a healthy state to keep all that carbon locked away so that it does not contribute to climate change. As long as they are wet and growing, they act as carbon sinks but if they are allowed to dry out or to be dug up, they become a major source of carbon emissions. There are some easy things we can all do to help stop that happening and there are some more challenging things. 

Near Kinder Gates

The easiest thing is to stop buying peat based compost for the garden. There are plenty of peat free composts on the market. They look and behave a little differently but perform the same function. So step one is:


If it doesn’t say it is peat free on the label don’t buy it.

The horticultural industry keeps saying it will phase out peat voluntarily, but it keeps missing its own targets. The government does not seem willing to legislate so it needs us to pressure garden centres and other shops to stop selling peat-based composts. The Coop has already done so, and we need the other retailers to follow suit. So, step two is:


This is a little harder, but they won’t bite if you tell them you would like to see more peat free alternatives. They want your business. Remember it is not just the bags of compost but the the pots of plants are probably also being grown in peat based compost.

Relatively little horticultural peat comes from the UK as most of it is imported from Ireland but there is still a lot we can do to preserve our peat. Here in the Dark Peak, Moors for the Future has planted thousands of hectares of sphagnum moss on old eroded peat and has successfully restored many of our upland peat bogs to being active carbon sinks. The government has bought out the extraction rights for some of our lowland peat bogs so they are no longer dug up and can be restored. We need to see lots more of this good work. Step three is:


Garden Organic is leading a campaign to protect our peat and they need your help. Do sign their petitions and contribute to their campaigns. Write to your MP and local councillors about the issue. Ask if the council is still using peat and when it plans to stop.

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One Response

  1. I have used peat in my composts for over 50 years I have trialled most peat free composts on the market and found none of them to be comparable with peat,the nearest was coir however this has a huge carbon footprint as it is shipped from Sri Lanka something Joe public is not told also it is VERY expensive.I should say that I am a member of various Horticultral societies where this upcoming ban is causing real concerns the consensus being that as stated above peat free composts are pretty poor.
    Most peat free composts contain Forestry waste this is usually left on the forest floor after logging and thus adds to the soil eco system if the use of peat is to stop this waste will be used to make peat free composts thus starving our forest soils .
    I see this as robbing Peter to pay Paul yes save our peat bogs but destroy the forest soil.Comments invited

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