Why I vow to never support the Peat industry for my entire life.

13 years ago

Unfortunately, I cannot spend the time formatting this post, or editing it - so I hope that the format from which it is being copied/pasted does you well on the eyes. I really wish I could bold out certain things to make this easier to read, and understand, but unfortunately I cannot.

A little background. I take credit for writing this, and am by no means an expert, but rather, somebody involved in the study of biology, that aims to act in a sustainable way, as much as possible.


Ah, the debate of "eco-friendly" peat moss harvesting.

Firstly - if you are not sure what "peat moss" is, this link may be helpful:

But, really - I had to ask myself, today, after discussing this with someone:

is any harvesting of peat "eco-friendly?"

First let me briefly state why people use peat.

- They use it to retain moisture (when it is moist, and not dry,

it holds moisture well)

- They use it as a source of organic matter (which, itself, retains

moisture, increases cation exchange capacity, and acts as a soil

buffer to prevent large pH swings, and also encourages the bio-

logical soil life to thrive)

- Many choose peat because it is convenient - it is always at the

stores, it is cheap, it weighs nearly nothing compared to things like

compost, and, well, it's POPULAR!

I ask: Why use peat, when we can use compost to achieve the same desired

outcomes in our growing medium, and when peat mining itself is a detrimental

thing to our environment?

Abridged version of this post: 1\. Peat mining sites are essentially stripped, on an individual basis. 2\. Just because there's a lot of peat all over the world does not make it Ok to strip individual sites. 3\. Many plants and animals (many of which are rare/endangered) depend on specific peat bog sites and the landscape diversity they provide... 4\. Individual peat bogs add to a landscape diversity that the ecosystem depends on, in part, to thrive.. 5\. Mining peat liberates CO2 in two ways. 1\) The peat you purchase biodegrades over time, releasing CO2. 2\) The peat bog itself is lead to exponential rates of CO2 liberation due to the industry stripping it and lowering the water table (CO2 is otherwise, in these bog settings, natural "stored" because waterlogging and acidity and low Oxygen keep the peat (a huge source of carbon) from decomposing. 6\. Mining peat lowers water tables in the specific mining areas 7\. You don't need to use peat! It is acidic, repels water when dry, and compost can be easily substituted for it to achieve the same effects in your soil/medium. 8\. Peat cannot and will not be mined with the ecosystem as a priority. The peat industry ferociously fights regulation and currently mines/strips one location before it can regenerate (for that is impossible, since it cannot grow as fast as we are mining it). Just because we have a lot of peat on this planet does not excuse the stripping of individual peat mining sites, because it affects the local/regional ecosystems which then has a ripple affect on the rest of the world's ecosystems.

Now: The long version.

So I asked myself: Do you trust regulations to protect peat bogs, in a way

that is acceptable, even though it is in competition with harvesters (that

have one thing on their mind: Money)

Well, I have decided that I do not, and it actually bodes well with me.

Why? Nobody needs peat!

Why don't we need peat in most of our growing mediums?

-It repels H2O when dry.

-It is also acidic.

-And, best of all, you can just use good compost instead, to

achieve what you are trying to achieve when using peat moss.

When we take peat moss from the land we do a few different things:

The peat bogs are harvested (dug - resulting in low lying areas), which results in increased water loss from the site, which results in lowered

water tables where the harvesting is done.

The peat is robbed from the site, meaning that that the mining site's

ecosystem is chopped away in many aspects. Floura and fauna can no

longer survive (as well, if at all) in a mining location, and animals that use

peat sites (for example, migratory avians depend on peat bogs as a source of

food while traveling, as well as many other species of organisms)

Long term, we notice that as each of these sites are cleared, the

result is less landscape diversity (which our ecosystem thrives upon)

Finally, we see that the peat mining liberates CO2 at exponential rates

compared to what liberation there would be, and global warming is

increased as the CO2 from you you use is liberated (as your personal peat

supply biodegrades over time). Also, the actual peat site where the mining is

done is now in a low water zone (which once helped to inhibit decomposition

of the peat at this site), creating exponential CO2 liberation from the actual

site itself.

It is for these reasons, in conjunction with the fact that we can use

compost derived from what would otherwise go into landfills, that makes

me vow to never in my entire life support the peat industry. I can only

hope that my fellow growers do the same.

See, I compare peat mining to fishing.

With fishing, we can work out a way to do it that is sustainable. Why?

Well, because fishermen know (or at least should), that sustainable fishing will

ensure the future of their business. Also, the survivability of the fish (a

concentrated resource, compared to peat) depends on the immediate effects

of harvesting a population within a certain location.

With peat mining, since there is such an abundant amount of it (peat

bogs cover 1% of all global land - which may not seem like a lot, but is a very

significant amount..) and the collective peat bogs' survivability (on a global

scale) does not depend (as much as fish) on the survival of one bog

does not depend on that of other peat bogs in differing locations.

Therefore, regulations will not stop the individual company from mining a

specific site to depletion - there simply is no incentive for them to do so.

The miner will basically strip a certain site, rather than skim from a multitude

of sites (without nearly depleting specific peat bogs). Long term: This is a

bad thing. Short term: This is a bad thing.

Ideally, they'd mine the peat bogs on this globe a whole - a collective of

individual peat bogs.. They do not though. Since there is such abundance

they will mine a specific site to depletion, which is very detrimental to the

ecosystem, yet is currently allowable by the industry's so-called "sustainable"


I do not trust these regulations from stopping such horrific acts on the

environment. And, when there's an easy and smart alternative (compost), I

especially disdain peat mining.

To conclude:

Many rare species thrive and depend on peat bogs.

Peat bogs are CO2 sinks, and disturbing them releases this CO2

Peat can be replaced with compost (or other organic matter), instead, when


Peat bogs help maintain unique biodiversity in our ecosystem

Peat mining forever alters the location of mining, no matter how much the

industry itself tells you about their precaution and "sustainability"

I do trust the peat industry, and do not support it, for there is no need,

and it is detrimental to our environment.

Any input is certainly welcome, and I hope you all grow on well, whatever your choice may be!


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