Proceedings of the 14th International Peat Congress
england, horticulture, peat
Rieley 2012: Facts, Figures and Fallacy – Half Truths Driving the Phasing Out of Peat Use in Horticulture in England
Theme II. Peat for horticulture, energy and other uses
The UK Government has adopted a policy to stop the use of peat in England in the garden and hobby market by 2020 and the commercial horticulture sector by 2030. The rationale is based on biodiversity loss, CO2 emissions, damage to heritage and historical artefacts and destruction of scientific information. Most of the damage to England’s lowland raised bogs, however, has occurred over centuries through conversion to agriculture and forestry, use of peat for cattle and horse bedding and domestic fuel. Peat extraction for horticulture commenced on a commercial scale only in the 1960s and its effect has been small compared to other uses. Of the 680,000 hectares of peat in England only 920 ha (0.14%) is currently subject to peat extraction and this is declining under Government pressure and planning restrictions. 99% of England’s raised bogs are degraded and emitting the equivalent of 3 million tonnes of CO2 a year while the peat extracted in England for horticulture is responsible for less than 200,000 t CO2e (7%) and is only 0.04% of total annual UK greenhouse gas emissions. This information is discussed in the context of the UK Government’s Task Force to ‘build a resilient and sustainable horticultural industry’.