Updated: Mar 11, 2021
What is peat?
Peat is a type of soil made up of waterlogged, partially-decomposed plant material (including sphagnum moss and other acid-loving plants), which has built up over nearly 10,000 years in wetland habitats.
Why shouldn’t we use it?
More than 95% of lowland bogs in the UK have been destroyed or damaged, in order to gather peat on a large industrial scale. This totally destroys vast habitats which support many rare and endangered species of plants and wildlife. They cannot be regenerated - they are gone for ever.
Perhaps more importantly, peat is the largest and most efficient land-based store of carbon. Left undamaged, peatlands are saturated with water, which means they are anaerobic (i.e. there is an absence of oxygen), so the materials do not decay. As peat is extracted for compost, oxygen gains access to the peat, so the organic matter starts to decay and the stored carbon is released as carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Peat bogs store on average 10 times more carbon per hectare than any other eco-system, including forests.
Peatlands contain about half of the UKs stored carbon
Globally, peatlands store about half a trillion tonnes of carbon
Garden plants don't actually need peat, whereas bog plants growing in the wild do