Peat-use impact case disputed

International Peat Society backs wise-use approach and challenges Defra's biodiversity data.

The chair of the scientific advisory board of the International Peat Society (IPS) has criticised Defra for using "unsubstantiated" arguments on biodiversity and climate change in defence of its proposed ban on peat.

Professor Jack Rieley said: "I believe that the case for stopping the use of peat in growing media is unnecessary and misguided. Defra has not taken account of all the relevant information and uses arguments on biodiversity and climate change that have not been substantiated."

He said the IPS was supportive of using less peat in horticulture and developing alternatives - if they deliver quality, reliability and safety - and was not "against an arbitrary deadline".

Rieley, who was a lecturer and peatland scientist at the University of Nottingham and has spent the past 20 years researching tropical peatland in South-East Asia, estimated the carbon emissions from UK peat extraction as 0.07 per cent of total emissions.

He said biodiversity arguments from Defra were flawed because some peatland had become too dry to support wildlife. "I want Defra to present all the facts of the relative impact of using peat," he added.

The Finnish-based IPS's Strategy for Responsible Peatland Management embraces the wise-use approach to peat and peatland that supports the maintenance of biodiversity, reduction in carbon emissions and research into peat replacements, said Rieley.

This strategy is being adopted worldwide by companies and trade associations to ensure that peat is not extracted from pristine bogs and that after-use restoration aims to recreate the potential for peat accumulation in the future.

IPS president Donal Clarke said: "The science of horticulture does not allow for the complete abandonment of peat. When the UK started these ideas on limits on peat, Dutch horticulturists said they would be laughing all the way to the bank."

Clarke said the Dutch were working on a new national policy based on assurances that peat comes from areas already heavily damaged and not from new bogs. "The Finnish have a new peatland strategy, as does Ireland." Irish peat producer Bord na Mona is working towards 30 per cent peat alternatives in retail products.

Rieley will take part in a panel debate at the Stockbridge Technology Centre conference on compost on 16 February. For further details, call 01757 268275.

Peat protocol Assuring standards

The HTA is leading the development of a quality assurance protocol on bagged compost products through the peat task force. This could see Kitemarks used to guarantee an acceptable standard.

Policy manager Gary Scroby said: "Given that customers have mixed experience with previous (peat-reduced and peat-free) products, the emblem will be an assurance it is going to work."

A technical group is agreeing protocols, such as the inclusion of PAS 100 for green waste products. Scroby said the scheme will be self-policing. "I hope producers would like that quality assurance on the bag."


Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Sign up now
Already registered?
Sign in

Read These Next

Horticulture careers - plugging the skills gap

Horticulture careers - plugging the skills gap

Bespoke apprenticeships and internal training are helping firms to get ahead in skills-shortage horticulture, says Rachel Anderson.

Tractors: market roundup

Tractors: market roundup

Manufacturers are working to provide solutions to many challenges. Sally Drury looks at their newest models.

Aster

Aster

Brightening up gardens in autumn, these daisies are seen as a gem in the gardener's arsenal, writes Miranda Kimberley.


Opinion... Why no-deal Brexit should worry you

Opinion... Why no-deal Brexit should worry you

Whether you voted leave or remain all those years ago, a "no-deal" Brexit should worry you.

I will not be importing oaks this season. Will you?

I will not be importing oaks this season. Will you?

I find myself in a difficult situation. A few weeks ago I was fortunate to be present to hear details of imminent changes to regulations concerning Oak Processionary Moth (OPM) and oak trees. I heard details, asked questions and probed the implications of these changes. That may not sound like a difficult position to be in, yet I am uneasy.

Opinion... Better targets to tackle pollution

Opinion... Better targets to tackle pollution

Lobby groups jumping onto fashionable campaigns, often to promote their own interests, can do much more harm than good. Take, for example, the move against black polythene plant pots and containers.


Follow us on:
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Google +

HORTICULTURE WEEK BUSINESS Awards 2019

The Horticulture Week Business Awards is now open for entries

Horticulture Jobs
More Horticulture Jobs

Horticulture Week Top 60 Ornamentals nurseries

See our exclusive RANKING of ornamentals nurseries by annual turnover plus the FULL REPORT AND ANALYSIS

Tim Edwards

Boningales Nursery chairman Tim Edwards on the business of ornamentals production
 

Read Tim Edwards

Pest & Disease Tracker bulletin 

The latest pest and disease alerts, how to treat them, plus EAMU updates, sent direct to your inbox.

Sign up here

Are you a landscape supplier?

Horticulture Week Landscape Project Leads

If so, you should be receiving our new service for Horticulture Week subscribers delivering landscape project leads from live, approved, planning applications across the UK.

Peter Seabrook

Inspiration and insight from travels around the horticultural world
 

Read more Peter Seabrook articles