Speaking at the Defra peat consultation meeting, Professor Jack Rieley of the International Peat Society presented the findings and said there were opportunities for conservation bodies and the peat industry to work together.
He objected to proposals for a complete phase-out and said: "There are environmental and moral reasons for minimising the use of peat within a strategy that allows the horticulture industry to continue to use peat while further refining and increasing the use of non-peat substitutes."
The Enhancing the Sustainability of the Peat Supply Chain for Dutch Horticulture report identified the input of the sector to the economy, stating that there were no long-term alternatives to peat available.
It concluded that there were no sound arguments for the phase-out of peat in the Dutch horticulture sector and identified a five-point strategy for the future:
- Exclude the use of peat from high biodiversity areas.
- Allow peat extraction from degraded land using best practice measures.
- Create transparency in greenhouse gas emissions relating to peat-based products.
- Ensure future extraction of peat is from degraded peatland only.
- Develop long-term alternatives.
The report pointed out that the conservation of peat areas was the responsibility of governments and recommended that the Dutch horticulture industry explored options for: creating transparency in the peat supply chain; agreeing criteria for biodiversity and including them in quality assurance schemes; creating a business case for a more climate-friendly peat supply chain; and looking at options for the use of steamed degraded peat.