Growing Media Europe (GME) participated in the CEO Meeting of the International Peatland Society (IPS) and the Baltic Peat Producers Forum (BPPF) 2019 held on 4-5 September in Palanga, Lithuania. Both events dealt, among other topics, with the overarching question of the future availability of peat as a highly valuable resource for the growing media industry with regards to safeguarding responsible management of peatlands.
While the IPS event was directed at the CEOs of leading growing media producers and their member associations, the BPPF is an annual conference for the European “peat stakeholders” attracting more than 290 attendees. Participants at both meetings were confronted with the disenchanting contradiction of the sharply increasing demand for peat for a more sustainable horticulture and growing political forces willing to end the use of peat, claiming this necessary towards reaching agreed climate goals.
The global demand for growing media is skyrocketing. Growers wanting to face in a sustainable way challenges in horticulture such as labour, climate change and limited availability of resources such as water, land and fertiliser, need to grow more out of the soil. Peat is undoubtedly the most important constituent fit for this use. Life Cycle Assessments comparing peat, wood fibre, coir, compost and other materials have shown that peat is just as sustainable as any other growing media constituent if sourced responsibly. However, the key role of peat in answering the world´s need for fruits and vegetables, greener cities and afforestation seems to be increasingly ignored in public decision making.
GME chairman Stefaan Vandaele stated that “Peat free growing media have recently gained momentum due to NGOs and decision makers who wrongly consider peat free as a solution for saving biodiversity and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. As GME, we demand a science- based debate and politics that look at the full picture instead of falling for the easy way out offered by certain ideologies.”