The Peat Report: Peat Producers Take A Stand

The Peat Report: Peat Producers Take A Stand

Paul Short, president of the Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association (CSPMA), wrote a letter Aug. 10 to Susan Rieff, executive director of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, in response to the creation of the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES). To download the full SITES report to which Short is responding, visit www.sustainablesites.org/report. Short’s letter  is as follows:

Dear Susan:

The work of the American Society of Landscape Architects, Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin, and the United States Botanical Garden in the creation of the Sustainable Sites Initiative: Guidelines and Performance Benchmark 2009, and “The Case for Sustainable Landscapes” document is an important contribution to the advancement of sustainable land practices.  It is because of this importance that issues of resource use and management that are stated or implied in the documents need to be correct.

The Sustainable Sites Initiative: Guidelines and Performance Benchmark 2009 have two areas related to peat, 5.9 Support Sustainable Practices in Plant Production and 7.2 Restore Soils Disturbed During Construction.

On Page 136, Point 5.9 under, “Requirements,” it states that 90 percent of purchased plants need to come from businesses that employ at least six of the eight practices listed. One of these, Use of Sustainable Soil Amendments relates to not using peat.

Page 136, Point 5.9Sustainable practices in plant production for this credit include: 1. Use sustainable soil amendments. Use peat-free planting media or other sustainable sources.

On Page 173, Point 7.2 there is the inclusion under Organic Matter that explicitly states that for restoring soils you are not to use peat or organic amendments that contain sphagnum peat.

Page 173, Point 7.2: 1. Organic matter: Achieve appropriate organic matter for plant growth. … Do not use sphagnum peat or organic amendments that contain sphagnum peat.

While the reason for these considerations is not stated there is an implication that questions the sustainability of peatland harvesting, renewal of harvested sites and impact on climate change. This was confirmed at the recent Seeley Conference during the presentation by Dr. Steve Windhager on the SSI Guidelines.

The document, “The Case for Sustainable Landscapes,” stated clearly that the guidelines were “grounded on rigorous science.” In keeping with this foundation the Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association (CSPMA), which represents the peat producers of Canada, presents the following information on peat and peatland management.

Sustainably Managed Peatlands

As a user of a biological resource our industry is subject to the same principles of sustainable resource use, regulatory control and monitoring that other renewable natural resource values are subject to. In Canada, peatlands cover approximately [423] million acres. To help put this into perspective, all the bogs in Canada would cover the four western states (Washington, Oregon, California and New Mexico), and the size of the peat harvesting industry is less than the area covered by the city of Portland, Ore.

The Canadian peat harvesting area used during the past 70 years is in total only 42,000 acres.

A key measure of resource sustainability is the rate of harvest to natural ecosystems production. Within Canada over 70 million tonnes of peat accumulate each year. Of this, the sphagnum peat moss industry harvests 1.3 million tonnes. (Source: Canadian Peat Harvesting and the Environment; Second Edition, Issues Paper, No. 2001-1, North American Wetlands Conservation Council, Statistics Canada, 2005.)
Clearly, based on the above information, the commercial use of sphagnum peat moss by the Canadian horticultural peat industry does not represent overharvesting or resource depletion beyond the natural resiliency of the peatland resource.

Restoration & Reclamation Of Peatlands:

The members of the CSPMA adhere to the strict guidelines in the Preservation and Reclamation Policy established by the association. This policy includes:

– Identifying bogs for preservation.
–Leaving buffer zones of original vegetation to encourage natural succession after harvesting.
–Leaving a layer of peat below harvesting levels to encourage rapid regrowth.
–Returning harvested bogs either to functioning ecosystems, forests, wildlife habitats or agricultural production areas.

The industry has committed to a restoration program that returns the peatlands to functioning wetland ecosystems. We recognize that peatland functions provide water storage and filtration, support flora and fauna biodiversity, and act as carbon storage sites.

Understanding these functional relationships and determining the best practices for restoration and reclamation has been at the center of the jointly funded research program, supporting the Industrial Chair in Peatland Management housed at Université Laval, Québec City, Québec, Canada. The CSPMA has been a major funding partner together with the Governments, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Université Laval. Close to $4 million has been provided to date and there is a commitment for the next four years to advance the research needs for peatlands with an estimated additional funding of a further $4 million.

The results of the research are significantly changing the practices of not only Canadian peat companies but have been introduced throughout the world through the work of the Industrial Chair, Dr. Line Rochefort. The Peatland Ecology Research Group (www.gret-perg.ulaval.ca) is an excellent source as well as the CSPMA website for information on restoration.

The success of the research has shown that by following the restoration steps on sphagnum bogs, that within five years following completion of harvest the Sphagnum has accumulated four to eight inches in depth, the pitcher plants are fully developed and birds, animals and amphibians have started to return to the bog.

Our industry does not claim that it can return the full natural capital of the pristine bog within any normative human timeline measurement. It can and does ensure that the natural ecosystems processes are in place that in time will provide the full natural capital. This is in keeping with other sustainable natural resource management practices.

Climate Change:
The CSPMA commissioned an independent report by J. P. Cagampan and Dr. M. Strack, University of Calgary, entitled “Peatland Disturbance and Climate Change: What is the role of Canada’s horticultural peat industry.” The following is a direct reference from the document:

Page 8, File: Climate Change Peatland Disturbance (2008): “The peat horticultural industry in Canada represents relatively small emissions compared to total peatland disturbances globally. Canadian peat horticultural emissions (0.89 Mt CO2-e) represent 0.03 percent of emissions for all degraded peatlands (3 Gt CO2-e) worldwide. Moreover, emissions are 0.006 percent of all total global net anthropogenic emissions (15.7 Gt CO2-e).

Certification

The Canadian horticulture industry is supporting and working with Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) in the development of a certification system as part of the Veriflora Standard. The Veriflora Certification for Responsible Peatland Management; Requirements for Producers and Handlers; Sector Specific Annex: Horticultural Peat Moss is currently in the final review stage and it is anticipated that peat producer companies will be seeking certification this fall.

In summary, I thank you for the opportunity to present the resource facts and science behind the activities of the Canadian horticultural peat industry in our sustainable management of peatlands. I would encourage the Sustainable Sites Initiative authors to consider revising the documents related to the use of horticultural peat products.

Sincerely,
Paul Short, President

Leave a Reply

4 comments on “The Peat Report: Peat Producers Take A Stand

  1. Why am I not surprized to see the environmentalists (wolf) in Sustaianable clothing trying to force their concepts of a perfect world off on an industry in which they no nothing about! Must be nice to be focused solely on one issue in life.

  2. Why am I not surprized to see the environmentalists (wolf) in Sustaianable clothing trying to force their concepts of a perfect world off on an industry in which they no nothing about! Must be nice to be focused solely on one issue in life.

More From Media...
pbh-peat-mix-feature

January 2, 2017

Why You Need To Know What’s In Your Growing Media Mix

Before you buy growing media mixes or raw materials to mix your own custom blends, here are some important factors to consider.

Read More
zenplug-with-orchid-from-grow-tech

December 25, 2016

Grow-Tech Patents Plug Designed for Tissue Culture

The ZenPlug from Grow-Tech is used for tissue culture in orchids and difficult-to-root cuttings, and is one of several products recently developed by Grow-Tech.

Read More
Various Wood Substrates

December 18, 2016

The Evolution And Revolution Of Wood Substrates

Growing media formulations are evolving as researchers fine tune blending techniques for wood component substrate alternatives to achieve reliable, consistent results.

Read More
Latest Stories
pbh-peat-mix-feature

January 2, 2017

Why You Need To Know What’s In Your Growing Media…

Before you buy growing media mixes or raw materials to mix your own custom blends, here are some important factors to consider.

Read More
zenplug-with-orchid-from-grow-tech

December 25, 2016

Grow-Tech Patents Plug Designed for Tissue Culture

The ZenPlug from Grow-Tech is used for tissue culture in orchids and difficult-to-root cuttings, and is one of several products recently developed by Grow-Tech.

Read More
Various Wood Substrates

December 18, 2016

The Evolution And Revolution Of Wood Substrates

Growing media formulations are evolving as researchers fine tune blending techniques for wood component substrate alternatives to achieve reliable, consistent results.

Read More
oasis-grower-solutions

December 17, 2016

New Growing Media Technology Designed To Promote Health…

Oasis Grower Solutions recently launched several new innovations that support plant growth and health all the way to maturity.

Read More
mycoapply-from-mycorrhizal-applications-feature

December 5, 2016

New Growing Media Advancements Giving Growers More Opti…

With innovative, sustainable growing media components, growers will be able to improve plant health, achieve consistency among crops, save money, and reduce inputs, while saving space on storage.

Read More
growing-media-december-2016-feature

November 27, 2016

How The Sustainability Movement Impacts Growing Media

As consumers continue to focus on sustainability, growers need cost-effective media additives and options that produce high-quality plants, all while conserving precious natural resources and reducing the grower’s carbon footprint.

Read More
berger-forest-gold-feature

November 6, 2016

Growing Media Suppliers Are Focusing On Consistency

Here’s what three companies are doing to educate growers, while delivering products tailored to their specific needs.

Read More
Pindstrup Logo

October 6, 2016

Pindstrup Groups Open Modern Wood Fibre Plant In The Ba…

The Pindstrup Group recently opened a new wood fibre plant near Riga, Latvia, for the production of Forest Gold, a new component for growing media.

Read More
inorganic-media components

October 6, 2016

Online Learning Center Features Advice On Growing Media

This grower resource features videos and articles on how growers can most effectively promote plant health.

Read More
rhp-substrates-root-problems-web

October 5, 2016

How The Wrong Substrate Can Increase Potential For Root…

RHP, a European knowledge center for substrates and growing media, recommends using airy substrates in winter to provide more oxygen to the plant.

Read More

September 22, 2016

Peat Moss Supplies Look To Be Down In 2016

The annual harvest update from the Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association calls for below-average numbers in several major production areas.

Read More
LM-Bark 1 (Lambert Peat Moss)

August 3, 2016

Learn The Basics Of Growing Media From Texas A&M Un…

The Texas A&M University AgriLife Extension website offers growers a primer on growth media, from the most common types of materials to how to prepare them.

Read More
Penn State Plant Bud

August 3, 2016

Penn State University Offers Recipe For Potting Media

A mix of peat moss, vermiculite, or perlite, and compost or organic fertilizers, can provide a suitable environment with sufficient water-holding capacity, nutrient content, and aeration for plant growth and development.

Read More
Mum With and Without Ammonium Toxicity

May 5, 2016

How Nitrogen Influences The pH Of Your Growing Medium

In standard greenhouse fertilizers, nitrogen is supplied as ammonium, nitrate, or urea. Each of these three nitrogen sources, when taken up by plant roots, produces different chemical reactions with differing effects on the growing medium pH.

Read More
As the pots continue around the carousel, bark is pushed into the pots and settles around the roots, which helps to avoid compaction in the growing media

May 5, 2016

Three Factors That Can Impact The pH Of Growth Media

Water alkalinity, fertilizer, and plant species can each play a role in the pH of your growth media.

Read More

April 21, 2016

Nutrient Supply Makes A Difference In Soil Media Testin…

Research from the University of Massachusetts highlights the differences approaches to soil media testing, and when to use them.

Read More

April 21, 2016

Michigan State University Offers Tips On Greenhouse Soi…

Improper pH and higher than adequate nutrient levels are among the many reasons for regular soil testing.

Read More

February 20, 2016

Hydrogel Technology Means Growers And Their Customers C…

Water and nutrient management are critical elements for quality plant production in the greenhouse. Maintaining the right amounts of available moisture and fertilizer at all times can be pretty labor intensive, but there are tools available to help you keep these inputs at optimum levels as efficiently as possible. Recently, we visited Evonik Industries’ North Carolina production plant for to see how one of these products — Stockosorb — is made, how it works, and learn the benefits of incorporating these tools in your own operation. Learn more about Evonik Industries’ Stockosorb hydrogel product on the Stockosorb website.  

Read More