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PEAT EXTRACTION FOR HORTICULTURAL PURPOSES

Global demand for peat moss is growing, which is a good basis for the growth of the industry in the Baltic States. The most important issue for those working in the sector today is the EU Green Deal policy. The existence and success of the industry are threatened by a lack of understanding of the difference between the use of peat in energy and horticulture, inaccurate accounting for GHG emissions and the fact that peat resources are classified as a fossil resource at European level. An important task is to ensure efficient management of the peat extraction industry, at the same time taking into account both the interests of European Community and the national interests of Latvia.

In Latvia, peat is extracted for the production of peat substrates in horticulture (97%) and is almost not used as a fossil fuel. Therefore, the peat sector draws attention to the need to change the methodology for accounting for GHG emissions in Latvia, which means that the peat sector cannot require the same reduction of harmful emissions in the Member States. The current GHG emission accounting methodology for “immediate oxidation” is suitable only for the accounting of energy peat, which is used in less than 2% of Latvia.

“From Latvian peat, trees are planted all over the world, healthy food is obtained. This is an important contribution in terms of climate neutrality.

Peat products obtained in Latvia are exported to more than 100 countries in the world, where they are used in horticulture, forestry and soil improvement. Seedlings of ornamental plants, vegetables and trees grown in peat attract greenhouse gases. Peat plays a very important role in food production worldwide, it is the basis for growing vegetables. Peat obtained in Latvia is a third or 31% of the peat used in professional horticulture in the EU. Worldwide, 70% of the substrates used in professional gardening are peat substrates.

It is estimated that the world’s population will reach 10 billion in 2050 and that 415% more substrates will be needed for food security, ornamentals and tree seedlings. The demand for horticultural peat will grow by at least 250% (taking into account the growth of other substrates by as much as 1000%). There is also talk of replacing peat substrates in horticulture with other substrates, but GHG emissions from the production and use of various peat substitutes are not always taken into account. Read more about the environmental impact of peat substitutes Is it Possible to Completely Replace Peat?

FACTS AND FIGURES

In total, bogs cover 10% of the country’s territory. Of all Latvian bogs, peat is extracted only 4% and, due to the favorable climatic conditions in Latvia, the annual natural growth of peat significantly exceeds the extraction volumes. Approximately 1.6 million tons of peat accumulate per year, the average peat accumulation rate is about 2 mm per year. 0.95 million tons are harvested on average over ten years. This means that not all peat growth is currently obtained and used in Latvia.

Photo: Latvian Peat Association
  • Latvia is in 8th place in terms of the amount of peat per capita
  • Peat obtained in Latvia is used all over the world – 95% of Latvian peat is exported. Latvia receives the largest income from the export of peat products from the Baltic States, growing by more than 35% over the last four years.
  • 30% of all EU professional horticulture is based on Latvian peat substrate.
  • 7000 tree seedlings or 8000 vegetable seedlings can be grown with 1m3 of peat

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