Tweed Forum urges local gardeners to go peat-free

Tweed Forum, peatland restoration officer ''Alistair McDonaldassesses peatland conditions as part of a survey to identify areas suitable for restoration.
Tweed Forum, peatland restoration officer ''Alistair McDonaldassesses peatland conditions as part of a survey to identify areas suitable for restoration.

As spring approaches, the Tweed Forum is encouraging gardeners and growers in the Borders and north Northumberland to give peat-based compost a miss for the sake of the environment.

Peat has been used by gardeners for decades, but removing it from the land affects the ecosystem.

Peat forms over thousands of years and stores carbon that would otherwise enter the atmosphere. It acts as a floodwater store and clean water filter, and provides a rich habitat for wildlife. When damaged, the carbon is released into the atmosphere, wildlife suffers and natural flood defences are compromised.

Part of the Tweed Forum’s work involves surveying the thousands of hectares of peatland in the Borders for damage and encouraging landowners to apply for the funding that will repair and restore them. It’s estimated that around 3,000 hectares of peatland in the region could benefit from this remedial action at no cost to landowners as the work is carried out by specialist contractors funded by the Peatland Action Fund.

Rachel Coyle, Tweed Forum’s peatland action project officer, said: “While much of the peat sold locally in the Borders won’t have originated here, climate change obviously recognises no borders and we’re keen to encourage people to start to think about some of the excellent sources of peat-free compost that are now available.

“As more of us use peat-free alternatives, there will be less commercial incentive to harvest this important carbon store. While it may not be suitable for every plant in the garden, we hope to make our gardeners and growers more aware of their choices.”