TALLINN – Meeting with the Finnish delegation at the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council in Brussels on Monday, Estonia's Minister of Rural Affairs Urmas Kruuse acknowledged that horticultural peat plays an important role in food production, which makes it difficult to sharply limit the extraction and use of peat.
Peatlands cover more than a fifth of Estonia's land area and peat is exported from Estonia to 120 countries, much of it to the European Union, spokespeople for the Ministry of Rural Affairs in Tallinn said.
"Peat is valued globally because plants can be grown on it with 90 percent less water and 60 percent less fertilizers," the minister said in a press release.
According to Kruuse, increasing the value-added of peat should be encouraged and alternatives to peat as a widely used substrate should be more actively sought.
"Research and development projects must be carried out to investigate which substances, materials and technologies can replace peat in horticulture," the minister emphasized. He said we also need to turn to scientists to find ways to reduce emissions from peat use.
According to the minister, Estonian peat producers pay a lot of attention to climate targets.
"Peat can be recycled as a substrate; part of the used peat can be stored in swamps under restoration or used to make new products," Kruuse said, adding that business models based on the circular economy are becoming increasingly important and peat producers have a role to play in this.