Peat. Not Pete for peat’s sake!

“We wanted to find a place that represents the landscape and is a place of inspiration and resource,” is what Dearbhaill, the owner of Cnoc Suain, said to us when we arrived.  Cnoc Suain is a restored village that shines a light on its advancement in sustainable living. The lady that used to live in one of the cottages had a garden and used the peat from the land for fires. Dearbhaill and her husband, Charlie, used recycled wood and geothermal heating to restore the cottage. Dearbhaill informed us that she, “Wanted to let the cottage be as natural as possible and have natural plants grow around it.” Later on, Charlie led us to another cottage where we learned about the landscape and how it has interacted with the village people throughout the years.  He told us that an Atlantic blanket bogland, which is a land of peat that overlies prehistoric landscape, is all due to a type of moss called Sphagnum. This moss grows slowly, but it doesn’t die down because of the water that it holds and makes acidic.

Logs of peat separated into piles.

The village is near a lot of water, so the cottage floor is very damp. Today, they still use the peat from the land to heat the hearth    (fireplace).  This is the one unsustainable factor that I found during this site visit. Even though they’re saving money by using their own peat, they are also harming the environment by doing this.  Peat is a carbon sink that absorbs carbon and gives it off when burned. Our Ceide Fields tour guide, Anthony, told us that, “It’s worth more to leave peat alone on its surface than to dig it up and burn it.”  But, on the other hand, the cottage has to be heated somehow. So, if they don’t use the peat, they will still be harming the environment no matter what they use. They would most likely buy wood from somewhere which could be shipped from a location that is far away. Transportation is a huge factor when it comes to being sustainable.

 

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