Why is peat so important?
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Posted on: 10th June 2021
The UK government has been talking about introducing a law change about peat. What has it got in mind? It wants to stop the collecting of peat from UK peat bogs, but is thinking of putting a time limit that runs into years. Why is peat so important? It is a rare habitat in the UK, particularly in the lowlands, which has been used up over the centuries. It is also a sink for carbon that is extracted as carbon dioxide from the air and put into plant material, mostly in mosses (e.g., Sphagnum) which locks it away for thousands of years. Isn’t this all a bit beyond me? Turn to Psalm 8v3,4 When I look at thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and stars which thou hast established; what is man that thou art mindful of him. . . ? Thou hast given him dominion over the works of thy hands.’
I don’t need to wait for a change in the law, I can buy peat-free compost for use in my garden or allotment. I can ask my plant suppliers if they are using peat-free compost before I choose my plants. The use of peat-free compost also has a benefit as it uses up waste products. Such actions will, if done by enough people make an immediate improvement in reducing climate change and helping biodiversity.
A couple of months ago a fire on Marsden Moor, halfway between Leeds and Manchester, destroyed the living part of a moorland peat bog running to square miles of land. It is thought to have been started by a firework. I’m sure you don’t need someone to warn you about fireworks or barbecues but remember the magnifying effect of glass bottles left in the sun. Happy times saving peat!
Written by: Philip Le Masurier