BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 28 Oct '19

95% of the UK’s peat bogs have been destroyed, leading Garden Organic to declare an environmental emergency

Garden Organic is calling for a complete ban on the use of peat in horticulture, declaring a man-made environmental emergency which will take 1,000 years to rectify.

The charity has launched its ‘For Peat’s Sake’ campaign with the aim of pushing this ‘environmental catastrophe’ to the top of the political agenda.

Too little too late

Leaders at Garden Organic say that the garden industry has done too little too late to meet Defra’s demand to stop retail sales of peat by January 2020, and needs to be held to account.

Defra announced earlier this year that it is considering taking action if the industry fails to make ‘sufficient movement’. Garden Organic says it needs to go further by making the reduction mandatory.

‘95% of the UK’s peat bogs are now degraded or completely destroyed meaning it would take 1,000 years before they could start functioning again.

‘Peat bogs are actually a hugely important defence against climate change as they are the most efficient land-based store of carbon. Destroying them releases disastrous amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere having the opposite effect.

‘Reducing peat use in horticulture is absolutely vital for protecting our planet. Environmental awareness is once more at the top of the political and personal agenda. But throughout the gardens and allotments of the UK, peat-based bagged compost is still being bought by the barrowful. And thousands of plants are purchased which have been grown in a peat-based medium. We believe most gardeners, organic or otherwise, would turn their back on peat if they knew the full picture.

‘We can all make a difference by putting pressure on retailers to end the sale of peat. There are plenty of alternative options. And that is what this campaign is all about.’

JAMES CAMPBELL
Chief executive at Garden Organic

Garden Organic says more organisations need to join the likes of the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) and the National Trust in pledging to become peat free. It is also calling on members of the public to ask their local garden centre to stock peat free compost and plants if they don’t already.

Give consumers the facts

In 2011, a government white paper proposed ending the use of peat in the garden and hobby market by 2020, and the commercial horticulture sector by 2030. Garden Organic supported the proposal with its campaign ‘I Don’t Dig Peat’.

But now the charity says that with the 2020 deadline fast approaching, it is clear that the industry will not meet the voluntary agreement deadline.

The vast majority of bagged composts still contain peat – much of it now sourced from Eastern Europe. The suppliers say that they are not taking action because of lack of consumer demand for peat-free composts.

‘We find this difficult to believe’, said James Campbell, Chief executive at Garden Organic. ‘We need to campaign to get the industry to listen. We want to end the use of peat in horticulture, once and for all.’

‘Over the coming months we will be pushing peat to the top of the agenda again’, James continued. ‘We will be lobbying Defra to make its voluntary reduction targets mandatory.

‘This must happen for the industry to take note. We wholeheartedly believe that if consumers are provided with the facts, they will readily swap their normal compost for homemade or peat-free.’