There’s a rather silly article in yesteday’s Independent on Sunday reporting on a report about the ecological impact of gardening. But actually there are some quite interesting statistics quoted – and I’m keen to track down the report which looks quite interesting (from the RHS).
For example domestic peat use for gardening causes the release of half a million Tonnes of CO2 (presumably they mean CO2 equivalent) a year. This is a massive carbon footprint! The total footprint for UK agriculture is 20 million Tonnes. Although the biodiversity loss associated with peat extraction was mentioned, no effort was made to quantify it’s impacts – as I have blogged before there is no equivalent metric for a product’s biodiversity footprint. And 25 m2 of paving has a footprint of 1 tonne of CO2 equivalent. Which is not that surprising when you think about how much energy is required to extract the rock from the ground and move it around.
One thing the article missed, which I hope the report did not – is the Carbon stored in lawns. Let’s say for arguments sake that each hectare of lawn stores 100 tonnes of carbon (10kg per metre), this may be a slight underestimate. There are 30 million houses in England – let’s say each one has 10 square metres on average. That’s 3 million tonnes of Carbon in Englands garden lawns, equivalent to 12 million tonnes of CO2 stored away safely. That’s an enormous carbon store which we should all be working hard to keep in the ground.
But the whole premise of the article is “shock horror gardening is bad for the environment, because it has an environmental impact.” Which is a nonsense – everything we do has an environmental impact – nature conservation has a carbon footprint and a biodiversity footprint- hopefully a positive one.
A better question to ask is “what choices do we as a society make and how do these choices affect the impact on the environment.” We can all make choices including in how we garden, which reduce our carbon, water and biodiversity footprints.