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25 Sept 2022

Kildare's Wildlife Watch: Why it’s important to choose peat free

With the Irish Peatland Conservation Centre

Kildare's Wildlife Watch: Why it’s important to choose peat free

Kildare's Lodge Bog

So many times I have heard that, in order to help nature, we must restore our wild spaces and while this is true we cannot forget that each of us have a role to play to support biodiversity as our gardens.

In my garden I have recorded butterflies, bumblebees, hedgehogs, garden birds and native wildflowers. I know I have written before about the importance of home composting and choosing peat free, but I also get asked weekly why this is so important?

Did you know that peatlands once covered 20% of the island of Ireland. Today less that 20% of the original area remains. Peatland habitat loss has resulted in poorer water quality. The Environmental Protection Agency’s catchments.ie website reports that 119 water bodies are at risk of not meeting their water quality objectives as a result of peat extraction.

Ireland’s wet peatlands are the largest terrestrial store of carbon and if you want a simple way of taking climate action, choosing peat free at home is the first step. We need to keep peat in the ground and restore these habitats.

Peatlands are home to unique plants and animals. For example, in no other habitat will you find insect eating sundews, the large heath butterfly or black darter dragonfly.

Many of you will already be planting flowers that offer valuable nectar for our pollinators, and seeds and fruits for our garden birds in autumn.

Enhancing our garden spaces and indeed our community spaces for wildlife cannot and should not cause any negative impact on another habitat or group of species whose habitat and population also need our help.

The answer is to choose peat free. Most garden centres and hardwares stores offer a peat free alternative, although you may have to search for it between the rows of bags of peat compost! By choosing peat free you will be taking action for both climate and biodiversity supporting Ireland’s efforts to reach our net zero economy by 2050 and end our biodiversity emergency.

Don’t forget, if you come across a wildlife species that you would like help identifying I would be happy to help. Contact me at bogs@ipcc.ie.

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