Sales of peat to amateur gardeners in England will be banned by 2024, the Government has announced. Peatlands are the UK’s largest carbon store but only approximately 13% of our peatlands are in a near-natural state. This degradation has occurred due to drainage for agricultural use, overgrazing and burning, as well as extraction for use in amateur gardening (bagged retail growing media accounts for 70% of the peat sold in the UK). When this extraction takes place the carbon stored inside the bog is released as carbon dioxide which contributes to climate change. Peat extraction also degrades the wider peatland landscape, damaging habitats for some of our rarest wildlife such as the swallowtail butterfly, hen harriers and short-eared owls.
The Government will continue working with the professional horticulture sector on speeding up their transition to peat-free alternatives ahead of a ban for the professional horticulture sector.
Central Devon MP Mel Stride, who represents the eastern half of Dartmoor, says:
“The Government has committed to restoring 35,000 hectares of peatlands by 2025, including hundreds of hectares here within Dartmoor. This restoration will help protect wildlife habitats, help to prevent flooding and crucially improve one of our most important carbon sinks. Delaying the ban for the professional horticulture sector is a sensible compromise to give businesses time to move to peat-free alternatives.”
Professor Alistair Griffiths, Director of Science and Collections at the Royal Horticultural Society, said:
“Peatlands are the world’s largest carbon store on land, with great potential to store carbon long term, helping to reach net zero. They reduce flooding, when rewetted reduce fire risks and provide valuable habitats for both plants and animals. To tackle the climate and biodiversity crises, it is essential that we have a sustainable transition to peat-free alternative growing medias. The RHS stopped selling peat-based growing media bags in 2019 and will continue to work with Defra, industry and gardeners to accelerate the transition to peat-free.”