Sustainable use of Peatlandsactive 2 months, 2 weeks ago
Peat bogs account for 11.7% of Latvia’s territory. Peat for use in horticulture is a significant export from Latvia accounting for nearly €200 million exports in 2020, making up 31% of all peat used in horticulture in the EU providing about 3,000 jobs. At this time the use of peat in horticulture is under attack by several European governments and environmental groups as a major climate change threat. See – https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-59195535 . A notable quote – “
Last year countryside charity CPRE warned emissions from UK peatland could cancel out all carbon reductions made through new and existing forests”.
Groups in Latvia have proposed that exploited peatland could be transformed to grow cranberries, blueberries and other high antioxidant berries, which would dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions from exploited peatlands comparable to emission levels from restored peatbogs. The additional benefit would be the development of cranberry farms producing healthy food with significant export potential. Cranberry growers point to the success in Chile, which has roughly comparable peatland territory to Latvia to grow cranberries. Cranberry growing started in Chile in the late 1990s. By 2018 cranberry exports from Chile exceeded $647 million. See – https://www.statista.com/statistics/1008425/chile-cranberry-exports-value/ Latvia did not make investments comparable to Chile and significant peatland that has been exploited to export peat has neither been restored or transformed to grow cranberries and other productive crops.
It appears possible that solutions can be developed that address climate change concerns while not decimating the peat industry in Latvia and other countries with abundant peat bogs, while also significantly widening opportunities to grow and export cranberries and other berries high in antioxidants. Joint action by the Baltic Sea states with significant peat resources could transform a serious problem into multiple opportunities. Peat is a renewable resource. Exploited peat bogs can be restored or they can be transformed into an agricultural resource which both reduces CO2 emissions and enables production of berries high in antioxidants.