Peat is formed in waterlogged, acidic fens and bogs over thousands of years by the growth of mosses and other plants, which absorb and ‘lock away’ carbon dioxide.
Peat ‘grows’ by only a millimetre a year. A 10 metre deep peat bed takes 9,000 years to form.
Peatlands cover less than 3% of the land surface of Earth and in total holds around five hundred and fifty billion tonnes of carbon, which is thought to be twice as much carbon as the world’s forests.
Digging up peat releases CO2 into the atmosphere, we should want to keep carbon locked in the soil.
When peat bogs are drained carbon is released back into the atmosphere where it contributes to global warming. It is estimated that the peat compost industry releases 630,000 tons of carbon emissions every year, the equivalent of 300,000 extra cars, to provide UK gardeners.
Peat is ‘home’ for thousands of species of insects, hundreds of rare plants and endangered birds like the skylarks, curlew and snipe.
Peat is important for water management.
Peat moss can hold more than 25 times its dry weight in water.
Peat is an asset for the environment.