I wonder why the Government responsible for trees and CAP overgrazing, foresters and farmers are not vilified over damage to peat as are gardeners and horticultural growers. Maybe they can only pick on the weak to hide their own massive ongoing damage.
Comment by Professor Jack Rieley – International Peat Society
‘The work by the Durham researchers and others does not provide any proof that the use of peat in horticulture should be stopped. These words do not appear in the report! What the report does say is that the reasons for the current degraded state of UK peatlands is agriculture and forestry (most of it), climate change and peat extraction. What the report does not say is that the area of peatland (lowland raised bogs) subject to peat extraction in the UK today is less than 1.5% of the total raised bog area or 0.05 of the total area of all bogs.’
This review was commissioned by the IUCN UK Peatland Programme‟s Commission of Inquiry on Peatlands.( http://www.iucn.org )
- Estimates of the extent of peatland in the UK vary widely but most are between 1.5 and 2.5 million ha. The UK may host between 8.8 and 14.8% of Europe‟s peatland area and about 13% of the world resource of one peatland type, namely blanket bog. Indeed blanket bog forms the largest expanse of semi-natural habitat in the UK
- Drainage or ‘gripping‟ of peatlands has been carried out particularly on blanket peats (Wallage et al. 2006) in the past primarily for purposes of grazing or game management but also to direct water flows into reservoirs, to drain major pool systems and to prepare ground for tree planting. About 20,000 ha/year of largely blanket bog was drained in the 1960s and 1970s (Stewart & Lance 1983) funded by Ministry of Agriculture grants (70% of cost), although grant aid ceased in 1985.
- Lowland raised bogs have also been extensively affected by drainage of surrounding land for agriculture, which may cause interfere with bog hydrology and cause drying of the peat. In some cases direct bog drainage has been carried out to improve conditions for livestock rearing (Anon 1999).
- Whilst the most extensive areas of peatlands that have been damaged and destroyed by afforestation have been in the uplands, lowland raised bogs have also been impacted with 17% of the area of this habitat in England having been planted (Natural England 2010).
- Increases in sheep numbers, the emergence of new hardy varieties, the use of winter supplementary feeding, changes in sheep management (such as removal of wethers from the uplands) and the removal of cattle from many peatland and other moorland sites have all been factors in stock management that have resulted in reduced plant diversity (e.g. Tallis 1998).
- There has been significant modification of peatlands over time, but particularly in the last 300 years from aerial deposition, high grazing levels, regular burning (managed and wildfire), nutrient input and scrub colonisation (lowland raised bogs) and drainage together with other losses of systems to forestry, peat extraction and other developments. Many of these modifications are ongoing processes.