Peat moss Hi all! This is my first post here and I hope it goes well. I just finished writing up something I am pretty passionate about. I'd like to make it clear that I am not doing this to claim moral high-ground, feel superior, or judge anybody. I simply hold this issue close to my heart and would like to express my views on it, in hopes that someone can learn a little something and help out the environment. I have tried hard to not come across as condescending or "preachy" so I hope that pays off, because that is not what I intend - I just intend to spread knowledge and have a civil discussion of the topic. I feel as though this post would be most accepted and understood in this forum. Here goes! :D Firstly - if you are not sure what "peat moss" is, this link may be helpful: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sphagnum From the website of a large peat moss mining corporation: "Water management alone can take up to one year. Once the water table is lowered to a manageable level, equipment can enter the peat bog to prepare its surface. If present, trees are cut and used to make roadways within the bog, then large stumps and smaller vegetation are removed." Ah, the debate of "eco-friendly" peat moss harvesting I had to ask myself, today: is any harvesting of peat "eco-friendly?" ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ "Abridged" version of this post: (There once was a man, who wrote a love note, explaining that the hardest part about writing the letter was keeping it short!) 1...Peat mining sites are stripped of flora/fauna, on an individual basis, ......which severely impacts the local ecosystem, ......and also impacts the global ecosystem. 2...Just because there's a lot of peat all over the world does not make it Ok .......to strip individual sites, as explained above. 3....Many plants and animals (many of which are rare/endangered) depend on .......specific peat bog sites and the landscape diversity they provide... 4....Individual peat bogs add to a landscape diversity that the ecosystem .......depends on, in part, to thrive.. 5....Mining peat liberates CO2 in two ways, releasing enormous ......amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere, ......which disrupts the global ecosystem and adds to increase global ......temperatures.. i....The peat you purchase decomposes over time, releasing CO2.ii....The peat bog itself is lead to exponential rates of CO2 liberation due ......to the industry stripping it. CO2 is usually bound in these bogs, in the form of ......highly undecomposable sphagnum peat moss, staying there for thousands, if ......not millions of years. When peat mining is done, it causes peat to be exposed ......to oxygen. It also lowers the water table. These things mean that the peat ......bogs that once were untouched and not decomposing, now decompose, and ......liberate enormous amounts of CO2 into the air (peat moss is chiefly composed ......of carbon) 6.....Mining peat lowers water tables in the specific mining areas, ......which is another offense to our ecosystems 7.....You don't need to use peat! Peat is acidic, repels water when ......dry, and compost can be easily substituted for it. Compost is a better ......source of organic material, by far and offers a large range of nutrients ......as well as biological life and, perhaps most importantly, a large range of ......organic matter/complexes. 8.....Peat cannot and will not be mined with the ecosystem's well-being as a priority. .......This is because the peat industry ferociously fights regulation and currently .......mines (strips - relatively speaking) one location before it can regenerate (for .......that is impossible, since it cannot grow as fast as we are mining it). Just .......because we have a lot of peat on this planet does not excuse the stripping of .......individual peat mining sites, because it affects the local or regional .......ecosystems which then has a ripple affect on the rest of the world's .......ecosystems. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Now: The long version. So I asked myself: "Do you trust regulations to protect peat bogs, in a way that is acceptable to you?" Well, I have decided that I do not. Given the facts, I don't think you should, either. The great thing is this, however: You do not need to use peat! There's an alternative! It's called compost. What are the disadvantages of peat? .......It repels H2O when dry. .......It is also acidic. .......It is not a complete source of organic material .......But, best of all, you can just use good compost instead, to .......achieve what you are trying to achieve when using peat moss. When we mine peat moss, bad things happen .......Water tables drop. The peat bogs are harvested (dug - resulting in low lying areas, or ditches, or holes), which results in increased water loss from the entire area, which results in lowered water tables where the harvesting is done. This isn't just low water tables in the area where they dig the massive crater to excavate moss. This is the entire outlying area of this massive hole, we're talking about. .......Plants & animals are disrupted. The peat is robbed from the site, meaning that that the mining site's ecosystem is chopped away in many aspects. Flora and fauna can no longer survive (as well, if at all) in a mining location, and animals that use peat sites (for example, migratory avians depend on peat bogs as a source of food while traveling, as well as many other species of organisms) .......Landscape diversity is lowered. Long term, we notice that as each of these sites are cleared, the result is less landscape diversity in that specific locale. Ecosystems, including our global one, often thrive on the fundamental concept of high landscape diversity (well, at least as high as it was before man tinkered with it). .......CO2 is liberated from tampered peat bogs Finally, we see that the peat mining liberates CO2 at exponential rates compared to what liberation there would be, and global warming is increased as the CO2 from you you use is liberated (as your personal peat supply decomposes over time). Also, the actual peat site where the mining is done is now in a low water zone (which once helped to inhibit decomposition of the peat at this site), creating exponential CO2 liberation from the actual site itself. .......It is for these reasons, in conjunction with the fact that we can use compost derived from what would otherwise go into landfills, that makes me vow to never in my entire life support the peat industry. I can only hope that my fellow growers do the same.