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Greener Gardening

Peatlands conservation charity calls for end to sale of peat moss in shops and garden centres

The Irish Peatland Conservation Council says that the horticultural industry must transition away from peat where alternatives are available.

A PEATLAND CONSERVATION charity is calling on the government to end retail sales of peat moss for compost this year.

The Irish Peatland Conservation Council is asking for a stop to be put to the sales by the end of 2024, saying that the horticultural industry must transition away from peat where alternatives are available.

“While the Irish Peatland Conservation Council understand that there needs to be a responsible transition away from peat extraction for horticulture, for food security and the economy, we also understand the retail sector is an area where peat is not needed and which the extraction of peat directly affects Ireland’s biodiversity – helping to push it into decline by removing natural habitats to grow mostly non-native plants in our gardens,” the Council has said in a statement.

“Using peat in the garden also fuels climate change, as the destruction of the peatland releases carbon into our waterways and air.”

A working group of horticulturalists, mushroom growers, and environmental groups along with Bord na Móna, Teagasc and the Department of Housing met a dozen times over the course of 2021 to discuss issues including the availability of peat alternatives and how a ban on peat use may impose losses to jobs and the economy.

A report produced by the group included a recommendation that peat usage in the retail sector should be eliminated by 2025 where sustainable alternatives are available.

However, the Irish Peatland Conservation Council says it has not seen any indication from the government that it will move to stop the sale of peat moss compost from shops and garden centres even though peat-free compost is available, nor have retailers or the government prepared customers and gardeners for the change.

The Council has said a national education programme to “relearn the skills in gardening” that were “lost through the over-use of peat”. 

“At a time when other countries have committed to banning the use of peat to the private gardener by 2024 because of the environmental implications should Ireland not also respect our own peatlands and become stewards of the wet and wild peatlands of Ireland through ending the sale of peat moss compost in the retail sector this year?”

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