A new survey shows that only one of 20 leading garden retailers contacted by The Wildlife Trusts reported that it would eliminate peat from its shelves this year – and the survey reveals an overall lack of ambition by retailers to set targets to end peat sales. Last year, the voluntary target set by the Government to end sales of peat composts to amateur gardeners was missed.
This year the Government will decide if new legislation is needed to end peat use in the horticultural sector – but there is still no sign of their long-awaited peat strategy. The Wildlife Trusts are now calling for an immediate end to sales of peat compost – further delay will cause continued destruction of peatlands worldwide.
Calls to end peat use began over 30 years ago when people began to realise that peatlands are priceless – recognising them as precious places for wildlife and, more recently, as habitats which capture and store carbon if managed well.
Some retailers are doing notably better in moving away from peat than others: of the 11 out of 20 retailers that responded to the survey, all now offer peat-free composts as part of their range and none sell soil improvers or mulch containing peat. Travis Perkins and Wickes were the only two retailers to declare an end-date for peat sales – Travis Perkins by this year and Wickes by 2025. But while a further few plan to end peat sales in the future, no dates have been specified and others have no clear commitments at all. Just four reported stocking ranges of peat-free plants.
Craig Bennett, chief executive of The Wildlife Trusts says:
“Our survey shows that most retailers’ approach to the voluntary ban on peat sales has been woeful – even though the industry has been aware of the problem for decades. The time for voluntary agreements is over – the sale of peat must end now. Countless promises have been broken and targets missed with the result that precious peatland habitats are still being unnecessarily destroyed in the name of gardening.