DUBLIN, Ireland: Ireland, long famed for generations of its turf peat, is now receiving shipments of foreign peat, as the nation's reserve stockpiles are said to be exhausted.
Ireland has imported some 3,600 tons from Latvia, according to The Irish Times.
The peat was delivered to Drogheda Port in Co. Louth, where it was met by a fleet of 200 trucks.
Irish peat has ended its commercial production due to a 2019 High Court ruling siding with environmentalists enforcing European regulations.
Officials representing the peat industry said the imported peat traveled a 3,000-kilometer journey to reach Ireland, compared with an average distance of about 10 kilometers when sourced from within the country.
"This is the first time this country has had to import horticultural peat, with many scheduled shipments from the Baltic states and other EU countries expected over the coming weeks and months to supply Ireland's horticultural sector," the association said in a statement.
Peat is used in the production of foodstuffs, including mushrooms, soft fruits and vegetables.
Peatlands are among the world's most important ecosystems, with their ability to capture carbon and help regulate climate.
In 2019, a High Court ruling held that harvesting peat from most Irish bogs ran contrary to European Union regulations.
"We estimate at least two shipments the size of what arrived in Ireland last week will be required each month to meet Ireland's needs.
"It is a crazy scenario we are facing, given that horticultural peat is readily available and can be harvested in a sustainable, environmentally friendly manner in this country," said association spokesman John Neenan, as quoted by The Irish Times.
Ireland's horticultural industry is working to develop the phasing-out of horticultural peat harvesting by 2030, when it could be replaced by alternative methods.