The Trust is urging MSPs to send a message to the Scottish Government that the damaging practice of horticultural peat extraction should end.
The issue will be debated in Holyrood later today, after a motion raised by the Rural Affairs and Climate Change Committee Convenor, Rob Gibson MSP, received cross-party support.
Peat bogs are increasingly being recognised for the ecosystem services they provide – such as water filtration, flood mitigation and carbon capture – and are much more valuable to society than their use after being dug up.
Commercial peat extraction is damaging and destroying some of Scotland’s valuable raised bogs with applications for commercial peat extraction continuing in the planning system. The Scottish Wildlife Trust has recently objected to commercial peat extraction applications for Springfield Moss in Midlothian and Mossmorran in Fife. Unfortunately, the Springfield Moss application was granted, permitting a further 25 years of peat extraction for horticulture. This will involve removal of up to 3.5 metres of peat – which is likely to have begun forming during the Bronze Age, 3500 years ago.
Peat-free composts are commercially available and numerous high-profile gardeners have moved to completely peat-free methods of gardening, showing that peat usage is not essential for successful horticulture.
Head of Policy for the Scottish Wildlife Trust, Dr Maggie Keegan, said: “The Scottish Wildlife Trust would like to see commercial peat extraction end and hopes the MSPs in today’s debate agree.
“Peatlands are some of Scotland’s most valuable natural capital assets and digging them up is creating a debt that could take thousands of years to pay back.
“Many gardeners and allotment owners have used peat-free composts for years, showing that the archaic practice of destroying peat for horticulture is simply not needed for the production of quality compost. The Trust hopes this debate will send a message to the Scottish Government that Scotland wants to be peat-free.”