For thousands of years islanders have used peat on their fires but much more recently it has become a commercial crop for selling to the gardening sector.
Scotland is aiming to ban the sale of peat as part of its mission to protect our peatlands. This has implications not just for the Supply and Distribution Chain of the Gardening sector but for the whisky industry and those who still use it as a household fuel.
The use of peat in gardening.
This would be the first sector the future legislation would be tackling. Top gardeners, like TV’s Monty Don have for years been urging people not to use peat but one of the many alternatives on sale as well as making your own compost. Many gardeners have found using peat in their gardens to be very successful because of those same properties, (chemical composition and water retention), which make it invaluable to our natural environment.
The RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) is one of many organisations asking people to use peat free alternatives. More about those here: Peat-free gardening
Director of Horticulture at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Raoul Curtis-Machin said:
“The use of peat by gardeners now needs to be seriously challenged, when healthy non-degraded peat bogs in Scotland are critical in our fight against climate change and are immensely valuable for biodiversity.
“The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) is dedicated to plant conservation and stopped using peat more than 20 years ago, with no negative impacts on our world-class horticulture.
“Materials like milled pine bark and other fibrous woody material have proved to be a successful alternative to peat, even for the most challenging plants such as rhododendrons.”
Banning the sale of peat for gardening products would be the first step in a gradual approach which needs to take into consideration how phasing out the commercial extraction of peat would affect other users.
In Scotland, a small area of peatland (1-2,000 hectares from a total peatland area of over 2 million hectares across the country) is used for commercial peat extraction. Most is used for horticulture, a small amount for fuel and around 1% is used in the malting process of whisky production.Scottish Government
Click on this link to find out more: Ending the sale of peat: consultation – gov.scot (www.gov.scot)
Click on this link to take part in the consultation: Ending the sale of peat in Scotland – Scottish Government – Citizen Space (consult.gov.scot)
Environment Minister in the Scottish Government Mairi McAllan said:
“Peatlands are an integral part of our cultural and natural heritage and cover over a third of Scotland’s land area. In good condition, they help mitigate climate change and can support communities with green jobs. In poor condition, though, the benefits are lost and peatlands become a source of carbon emissions.
“Restoring Scotland’s peatlands can help us fight climate change, support biodiversity and provide good, green jobs – often in rural communities. This is why we have invested £250 million to restore 250,000 hectares of peatlands over a 10 year period to 2030.
“Hand in hand with our efforts to restore degraded peatlands, we must also do all we can to protect them. This means we must consider how to stop using peat, whether extracted in Scotland or elsewhere.
“We welcome a wide range of views to this consultation to ensure that we can set dates for ending the sale of peat that are both realistic and ambitious.”