Peat Extraction & Horticulture

Image: Peat extraction site © Emma Goodyer

Peat Extraction & Horticulture

Commercial peat extraction occurs mainly on raised bogs to provide peat for gardening. The mechanised peat removal has a major ecological impact, stripping away the living layer and subsequently exposing large quantities of peat to oxidation and loss of carbon. Neighbouring areas of bog within the same hydrological unit can become degraded as a result of the drastically lowered water table. Currently, nearly three million cubic metres of peat are sold for horticultural use every year in the UK, one third of which comes from UK peatlands. The main users are amateur gardeners (66%), followed by industry (34%) and a small percentage by local authorities (<1%) (Defra 2010). Most peat use in the UK can readily be replaced by more sustainable alternatives. The growing media industry has developed high quality products often using composted green wastes which are now widely used.

The IUCN UK Peatland Programme is working with a number of partners, including UK and devolved governments to investigate the restrictions around peat extraction and site restoration, as well as supporting research and policy to support the development of sustainable, peat-free alternatives.

For more information:


Join our team
We are recruiting - closing date 19th August 2020  We are recruiting for a Peatland Code Co-ordinator and a Communications Officer…
Sustainably sourced Sphagnum growing, harvested to produce dried Sphagnum (BeadaGro™) and mixed with other peat-free products to create a sustainable growing media.
Peat-free products - protecting peatlands, climate, gardening, pot-plants & salad.   By Jacqueline Wright, Business Development Manager, Beadamoss®
Sphagnum moss harvesting at trial site, Greifswald Mire Centre © Tobias Dahms
Wet agriculture - a tool in the climate action toolboxWith the urgent need to reduce our carbon emissions wherever possible, complimenting traditional…
Money for peatland restoration
Budget announcements for UK peatland restoration Peatlands received a welcome funding boost in the UK Budget 2020.  In a move to support the…
Peatlands in the EU post CAP
Peatlands in the UK beyond Common Agriculture Policy (CAP)The IUCN UK Peatland Programme continues to feed into the international peatland agenda, recently…
Afforested peatland restoration at Forsinard  © Neil Cowie/RSPB
Peatland & Trees position statement releasedThe IUCN UK Peatland Programme have released a position statement and recommendations on Trees on…
Caithness Wildfire, 2019 © Paul Turner
Burning & Peatlands Position StatementThe IUCN UK Peatland Programme have updated our position statement on Burning and Peatlands which…