CLIMATE Action Ilkley in partnership with Friends of Ilkley Moor, Friends of Ilkley Riverside Parks and Wharfedale Naturalists have launched the first phase of their campaign to promote a switch away from peat-based to peat-free compost for use by amateur gardeners in the town.
A campaign spokesperson said: “In the first phase, retailers within 10 miles of Ilkley have been asked to stop selling peat-based composts entirely during 2021. There are now numerous high-quality low-impact alternatives which are more sustainable. They contain only responsibly resourced ingredients such as composted green waste, forest bark, bracken and even sheep’s wool.
“The launch of the campaign comes just a few days after Monty Don of BBC’s Gardener’s World and all the major UK environmental charities signed an open letter to the UK government calling for a complete ban on peat in garden compost. In 2010, DEFRA sought a voluntary withdrawal of peat by the horticultural industry over the next decade. That deadline has passed with only a small reduction in the amount of peat-based compost sold to amateur gardeners. However, things are beginning to change. More local shops and garden centres started to sell peat-free compost this year. More manufacturers who produce peat-free composts are entering the market and many of those which make peat-based ones are reducing the amount of peat their products contain. Greater transparency means that many packs now disclose how much peat is in the compost so potential purchasers can make more informed choices.
“Here in Ilkley, peat is found naturally on our famous moor, where work to restore the peat bogs is already underway. Climate Action and partner charities hope that local businesses and residents will recognise that the only sensible place for peat in Ilkley is on the moor, not in our back gardens or hanging baskets. The role of natural undisturbed peat bogs as a carbon store is far more effective than trees. Peat bogs also store water, thereby helping to prevent flooding and moorland fires. They also sustain a huge variety of animal and plant life. Globally, the majority of peat bogs have been severely degraded by harvesting of peat for a number of purposes, of which horticultural use is by the far the highest here in the UK. When peat is removed from bogs and put into our gardens and planters, it breaks down releasing all that stored carbon. The second phase of the campaign will be launched in February and will be aimed at local residents here in Ilkley and in Addingham where their Environment Group will take the lead. The ultimate goal is to make sure every business and every gardener understands why selling and buying peat is not environmentally sound.”