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25 Feb

THE TIMES: Monday 21st February 2011

The RSPB, The Wildlife Trust, Plantlife and Butterfly Conservation want to see the Government imposing a £1 tax on the average bag of peat in next month's budget, as a deterrent to gardeners to switch to peat free.

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) accepts that peat extraction destroys wildlife habitats and contributes to green house gases, but opposes the idea of the tax, preferring the voluntary approach. RHS say that peat free compost is inferior in some cases dependent on the plant, therefore gardeners should have the choice.

Green campaigners think that a financial incentive to use peat free composts will change consumer behaviour, which will in turn focus the horticultural industry to seek alternatives.

What do you think?
Is peat really irreplaceable?
Why is peat free more sustainable?

Here are some statistics on peat extraction from the article:

  • British gardeners use 3 million cubic metres of peat a year (more than 60 million bags)
  • A million tonnes of carbon dioxide are emitted annually by peat extraction from bogs, equivalent to 300,000 extra cars on the roads
  • Only 1% of England's original, raised peat bogs survive
  • The bogs form at just 1mm in depth per year
  • Peat bogs are home to a whole host of wildlife such as dragonflies, butterflies, insect eating plants and important bird species
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