Plans to boost biodiversity, protect peatlands and create new woodlands will be set out today by the Environment Secretary, George Eustice, in a speech outlining the government’s ambitions to restore nature and safeguard the environment for future generations.
Speaking from Delamere Forest, he will announce new measures to tackle climate change and the biodiversity crisis and deliver our net zero commitment. This includes a ban on selling peat products by the end of this Parliament, subject to public consultation this year.
Further details of the Government’s new peat action plan will be announced, setting out a framework to improve the management, protection and restoration of both our upland and lowland peatlands. As England’s largest carbon store on land, peatlands play a vital role in trapping carbon, helping to control flooding and encouraging plants and vegetation that act as homes for wildlife, but when damaged, for example when mined for compost, they can end up emitting their carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
A new Nature for Climate Peatland Grant Scheme will support the restoration of 35,000ha of degraded peatland in England, backed by over £50m between 2021 and 2025.
The Garden Centre Association is fully supportive of the need to remove peat from amateur horticulture. In a statement, it said: “We support the Growing Media Taskforce statement and will be working alongside our colleagues in its aims.
“There is a need to assist gardeners in making the transition from peat based growing media and we believe this is possible by 2025, subject to the availability of quality peat free composts to meet consumer demand.
“We understand the challenge for the manufacturers, which will be to find sufficient quantities of the right materials necessary to replace peat, so that quality growing media is available to everyone.
“Growers will need a level playing field with imported plants and material support from Government will be absolutely vital, in order for both to be achieved.
“Gardening is a force for good in the population’s mental and physical health and, also, for the environment.
“The more people that are involved in gardening the more they are aware first-hand of the changes happening in the climate and, so, are more likely to respond positively to adjust the way they live.”