MP Barbara Keeley is a critic of proposed peat extraction at Chat Moss.
'Britain's rainforests' in danger as gardeners love affair with peat continues
3rd June, 2011
While the proposed sell off of UK forests attracted a chorus of criticism, the destruction of peat bogs continues almost unnoticed. Sam Campbell reports from current flashpoint Chat Moss, near Manchester
'Lowland raised bogs are an internationally and nationally important habitat which supports many rare and threatened species', David Crawshaw, Mossland Campaign Manager at the Lancashire Wildlife Trust, told the Ecologist. 'These include Merlin, Curlew, Lapwing, Whimbrel, Snipe, Soprano Pipistrelle (a type of bat), Brown Hare, Common Toad, and Water Vole. Also, they are highly important for their invertebrate populations.'
But Britain's peat bogs are in serious danger - centuries of drainage for farming and digging for fuel have damaged or destroyed over 90 per cent of the UK’s lowland bogs, according to environmentalists, who say they are irreplaceable.
As demand for fuel wanes and ecological awareness increases, the few remaining peat bogs might be expected to have been granted a reprieve. But bogs now face a new threat; gardening. According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the UK currently gobbles up 3 million cubic metres of peat every year for horticulture. While 30 per cent is used by professional growers, the majority, 69 per cent, is destined for amateur gardeners, predominantly as multi-purpose compost and ‘grow bags’.
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