Why are peat bogs important? Let’s start off with some facts. Peat bogs are a massive carbon sink and aid in the storage of carbon, containing more locked away carbon that the world’s forests. Peat covers 2-3% of the earth’s surface making it relatively scarce. Forests for example cover 31%. Using peat as either fuel, or in gardening, releases carbon back into the atmosphere. Peat is not regarded as a renewable due to its extraction rate in industrialized countries. Estimates put peat bog mass harvested each year at 60 times less than the mass that accumulates. Using peat is not sustainable.
Here’s info on why are peat bogs important.
So yeah, that gardening, indoor planting, growing food at home activity that you thought had a really positive carbon footprint. It’s potentially incredibly harmful to the environment and is helping to accelerate global warming.
Since peat regrows at a rate of 1mm per year, depletion of this vital resource is accelerating, and there is no way to help restore it aside from waiting. However there are alternatives that we can use. Some of these alternatives are:
- Humus (not to be confused with Hummus), is the end product of compositing, it’s decomposing organic matter which plants absolutely love. While it takes 6-9 moths to make, composting is the least expensive and most environmentally friendly. Best of all, you’re using the organic matter you already go through at home.
- Coir has also been touted as a sustainable alternative to peat moss in growing media. With Coir though you have to be careful t wash it first, and it lacks any real nutrients. Organic fertilizer is required – pushing the cost up.
- PittMoss, a peat moss alternative made from recycled newspaper, has emerged as a sustainable substitute in growing media.
There are also Semi-open cell polyurethane materials available in flaked and sheet stock are also finding application as sphagnum replacements with typical usage in green wall and roof garden substrates. However these are really not suitable for individual or small scale apartment or urban farming operations.
The UK government also has a pretty good guide on peat bog conservation and what you can do to help.
Also check out our coconut coir experiments with kale.