31 MAY 2022

burn peat and you burn the uk's rainforests

In 2021, the UK government introduced a ban on burning peat deeper than 40cm in some protected areas of England. This was in response to the traditional practice of setting fire to peatlands to create and maintain habitats for grouse shooting. But, according to the RSPB and Greenpeace, some shooting estates in England are ignoring the ban and are still burning deep peatlands in protected areas.

Due to the amount of carbon that they store, the UK government has called peatlands our ‘national rainforests’. But despite the crucial environmental role they play, campaigners say these ‘rainforests’ are still being illegally burnt.

 Estate managers set fire to peatlands to encourage the growth of green shoots that grouse like to eat, but in so doing, they release stored carbon into the atmosphere. Peatlands cover around 12% of UK land area and sequester around 3 billion tonnes of carbon, the equivalent of all the forests in the UK, France and Germany combined.

The new regulations state that there was “consensus that burning vegetation on blanket bog is damaging to peatland formation and habitat condition”. Blanket bog is a rare ecosystem consisting of large areas of deep peat soil. It was precisely these delicate habitats that the new legislation was introduced to protect with the knock-on effect of helping the UK achieve its net zero carbon target by 2050. 

Both Greenpeace and the RSPB are calling for a complete ban on burning all peat.

 "Intensive and damaging land management practices such as burning continue to harm and further threaten these vital carbon and nature-rich ecosystems", said Dr Patrick Thompson, a senior policy officer at RSPB UK.

"Why on earth is the government allowing grouse moor owners to turn swathes of national parks and protected sites into charred wasteland for the private gain of a few landowners?" asked Rebecca Newsom, head of politics at Greenpeace UK.

At For Peat’s Sake, we’re passionate about preserving our peatland heritage. That’s why we created For Peat’s Sake coir compost – an environmentally friendly alternative to digging peat out of bogs and damaging precious eco-systems. Not only does our compost help save the planet, its unique structure makes it the ideal growing medium for your plants and the choice of professional growers worldwide.

Source: BBC News