Why is using peat to grow plants so harmful to the environment?
Peat is partly decomposed plant matter that builds up slowly over thousands of years. Peat forms in blanket bogs, lowland raised bogs, lowland fens and upload flushes, mosses, swamps and fens – a multitude of different landscapes, covering 10% of UK land.
Losing just 5% of UK peatland carbon storage would be equivalent to the UK’s entire annual greenhouse gas emissions. Globally, peatlands store half a trillion tonnes of carbon – that’s twice as much as the world’s forests. Unearthing this carbon to use the peat in our gardens is simply not sustainable.
Peatlands are like rainforests and up until very recently, humans have been busy destroying them. The UK peatlands are now largely protected, but the horticultural industry simply imports from Ireland and Europe instead, damaging these incredibly valuable ecosystems to meet demand.
Some peatlands are as deep as 10 metres and have taken thousands of years to form. It can take over a year for peat to build up by just 1 millimetre.