- Apr 11, 2013
We hear a lot of disagreement over the sustainability of peat moss production, but how many people have really looked into it? I have. First off, the idea of peat moss not being sustainable started in the UK, where the use of peat is most certainly not sustainable. They have very limited areas of Sphagnum bog, and have been burning peat from those bogs for millenia. Here in the US practically all peat is sourced from Canda, where tbe situation is very different. First off, Canada has more area of Sphagnum bogs than the entire land mass of the UK including Ireland and the surface area of the Irish Sea. If you take the area of those bogs and figure on about 1 mm of peat deposition annually, while factoring in that far less than 1% of those bogs have ever been commercially exploited, and bogs which go out of production are legally required to be reclaimed , it's readily apparent that Canadian peat production would be sustainable at several times the current level of production. The math on this is solid. A quick look at the numbers shows that Canada possesses 113.6 million hectares of Sphagnum bog. At 10,000 square meters per hectare, that's 1,136,000,000,000 square meters. Multiply that by 1 mm of peat deposited annually, and you have 1,136,000,000 cubic meters of peat deposited annually. Current annual comnercial production is about 1.3 million metric tons. On a dry weight basis, peat is about 400 kg per cubic meter. 1.3 million metric tons is 1,300,000,000 kg of peat. At 400 kg per cubic meter, that's 3,250,000 cubic meters of peat produced and sold yearly, compared to 1,136,000,000 cubic meters naturally deposited. That's 400x the deposition as compared to the extraction. And again, all this occurs in the less than 1% of peat bogs commercially exploited in the history of the industry in Canada. Feel free to check my math and any assertions I made.