In light of the recent press release from the UK government on the use of peat in horticulture, Plant Heritage here sets out Plant Heritage's position.
Plant Heritage fully recognizes the value of peat habitats for biodiversity, carbon storage, and water management and the need for their conservation. They support the transition to peat-free growing media and the proposed dates set out in the government consultation of 2024 for retail and a later date for professional use.
However, the company wishes to see the industry prepared with suitable alternatives at the required volumes so as to not risk the integrity of the National Plant Collections. Plant Heritage also encourages the growing media industry to work with the specialist knowledge of collection holders in developing suitable alternatives. They will continue to provide training and support for National Collection Holders and members to help make the transition as soon as possible.
The company represents a diverse range of National Plant Collections and, in recognition of the specialist work done in conservation by Collection Holders, believes there is a very limited exemption that should apply for obligate peat plants grown for conservation and research until proven alternatives are available. A small number of plant groups are adapted specifically to peat bog habitats. Though research is ongoing, peat-free alternatives are currently limited in their suitability for these plants, and rare taxa could be at risk of being lost. Where plants are under threat in their native habitat, ex situ conservation may be critical for the survival of these threatened taxa.
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