Environment Secretary Hilary Benn has urged garden centres and retailers to help protect the environment by clearly marking packaging where peat is contained in compost.
Peat dug up in Britain for garden compost releases almost half a million tonnes of carbon dioxide each year, which is equivalent to the carbon dioxide produced by 100,000 cars.
Benn said: Peat harvested for gardening seriously damages rare wildlife habitats and contributes to climate change. Species such as the curlew and White-faced Darter dragonfly find their homes on our peat bogs, over three quarters of which have already been damaged.
All compost should be labelled clearly so that they can make informed choices about what they use. There are many alternatives to using peat in the garden, and for the first time over 50 per cent of the compost market is peat free.
Gardeners peat use dropped for the first time in 2007 with 54 per cent of the growing media market peat-free.
Currently, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs are researching the best peat alternatives.
Association for Organics Recycling technical manager Emily Nichols said: Preserving peat habitats helps to maintain biodiversity; plants, insects and other animals, which have adapted to live there. To help preserve more of them in the UK and by making good use of readily renewable resources, composted plant materials have been successfully trialled as alternative partial replacements for peat.