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{{short description|Accumulation of partially decayed vegetation}}{{Hatnote|Not to be confused with peat moss, a plant from which peat often forms.}}{{other uses}}File:2013-05-03 Fotoflug Leer Papenburg DSCF6844.jpg|thumb|Peat stacks in Südmoslesfehn (district of Oldenburg, Germany) in 2013]]File:Peat gatherers.JPG|thumb|Peat gatherers at Westhay, Somerset LevelsSomerset Levels(File:Peat stacks and cutting.JPG|thumb|Peat stacks and cutting at Westhay, Somerset Levels)(File:Harvesting the peat.JPG|thumb|Harvesting the peat at Westhay, Somerset Levels)File:Peat Lewis.jpg|right|thumb|Peat in Lewis, Scotland]]File:Torfabbau-.jpg|thumb|Peat extraction in East FrisiaEast FrisiaPeat ({{IPAc-en|p|iː|t}}), also known as turf ({{IPAc-en|t|ɜːr|f}}), is an accumulation of partially decayed vegetation or organic matter. It is unique to natural areas called peatlands, bogs, mires, moors, or muskegs.REPORT, Wise Use of Mires and Peatlands: Background and Principles including a Framework for Decision-Making, Hans, Joosten, Donal, Clarke,weblink PDF, 951-97744-8-3, Totnes, Devon, 2002, REPORT,weblink Tree plantations within the context of ecological restoration of peatlands: practical guide, Hugron, Sandrine, Bussières, Julie, Peatland Ecology Research Group (PERG), Laval, Québec, Canada, Rochefort, Line, 22 February 2014, PDF, 2013, The peatland ecosystem is the most efficient carbon sink on the planet,WEB,weblink Peatlands and climate change, 2017-11-06, IUCN, en, 2019-08-16, because peatland plants capture CO2 naturally released from the peat, maintaining an equilibrium. In natural peatlands, the "annual rate of biomass production is greater than the rate of decomposition", but it takes "thousands of years for peatlands to develop the deposits of {{cvt|1.5|to|2.3|m|ft|disp=sqbr}}, which is the average depth of the boreal [northern] peatlands". Sphagnum moss, also called peat moss, is one of the most common components in peat, although many other plants can contribute. The biological features of Sphagnum mosses act to create a habitat aiding peat formation, a phenomenon termed 'habitat manipulation'.Walker, M.D. 2019. Sphagnum; the biology of a habitat manipulator. Sicklebrook publishing, Sheffield, U.K. Soils consisting primarily of peat are known as histosols. Peat forms in wetland conditions, where flooding or stagnant water obstructs the flow of oxygen from the atmosphere, slowing the rate of decomposition.Keddy, P.A. 2010. Wetland Ecology: Principles and Conservation (2nd edition). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. 497 p. Chapter 1.Peatlands, particularly bogs, are the primary source of peat,JOURNAL, Gorham, E, 1957, The development of peatlands, Quarterly Review of Biology, 32, 145–66, 10.1086/401755, although less-common wetlands including fens, pocosins, and peat swamp forests also deposit peat. Landscapes covered in peat are home to specific kinds of plants including Sphagnum moss, ericaceous shrubs, and sedges (see bog for more information on this aspect of peat). Because organic matter accumulates over thousands of years, peat deposits provide records of past vegetation and climate by preserving plant remains, such as pollen. This allows the reconstruction of past environments and study changes in land use.Keddy, P.A. 2010. Wetland Ecology: Principles and Conservation (2nd edition). Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 497 pp. 323–25Peat is harvested as an important source of fuel in certain parts of the world. By volume, there are about {{convert|4|e12m3|e12cuyd|abbr=off}} of peat in the world, covering a total of around 2% of the global land area (about {{convert|3|e6km2|e6sqmi|abbr=off|disp=or}}), containing about 8 billion terajoules of energy.WEB,weblink Survey of Energy Resources 2007, 2008-08-11, World Energy Council, 2007, PDF, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 2008-09-10, Over time, the formation of peat is often the first step in the geological formation of other fossil fuels such as coal, particularly low-grade coal such as lignite.WEB,weblink Is coal still being formed today?, 25 October 2015, Depending on the agency, peat is not generally regarded as a renewable source of energy, due to its extraction rate in industrialized countries far exceeding its slow regrowth rate of 1 mm per year, and as it is also reported that peat regrowth takes place only in 30–40% of peatlands.WEB,weblink Archived copy, 2012-09-09, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 2013-01-21, Because of this, the UNFCCC,WEB,weblink Archived copy, 2013-06-11, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 2013-11-04, and another organization affiliated with the United Nations classified peat as a fossil fuelweblink Today's primary sources of energy are mainly non-renewable: natural gas, oil, coal, peat, and conventional nuclear power. There are also renewable sources, including wood, plants, dung, falling water, geothermal sources, solar, tidal, wind, and wave energy, as well as human and animal muscle-power. Nuclear reactors that produce their own fuel ("breeders") and eventually fusion reactors are also in this category. However, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has begun to classify peat as a "slowly renewable" fuel.WEB,weblink Archived copy, 2013-06-10, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 2013-11-04, This is also the classification used by many in the peat industry.WEB,weblink Archived copy, 2013-06-11, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 2013-11-04, At 106 g CO2/MJ,The CO2 emission factor of peat fuel {{webarchive|url= |date=2010-07-07 }}. Retrieved on 2011-05-09. the carbon dioxide emission intensity of peat is higher than that of coal (at 94.6 g CO2/MJ) and natural gas (at 56.1) (IPCC).


Peat forms when plant material does not fully decay in acidic and anaerobic conditions. It is composed mainly of wetland vegetation: principally bog plants including mosses, sedges, and shrubs. As it accumulates, the peat holds water. This slowly creates wetter conditions that allow the area of wetland to expand. Peatland features can include ponds, ridges, and raised bogs. The characteristics of some bog plants actively promote bog formation. For example Sphagnum mosses actively secrete tannins, which preserve organic material. Sphagnum also have special water retaining cells, known as Hyaline cells, which can release water ensuring the bogland remains constantly wet which helps promote peat productionWalker, M.D. 2019. Sphagnum: the biology of a habitat manipulator. Sicklebrook Press. 978-0-359-41313-3.Most modern peat bogs formed 12,000 years ago in high latitudes after the glaciers retreated at the end of the last ice age.Vitt, D.H., L.A. Halsey and B.J. Nicholson. 2005. The Mackenzie River basin. pp. 166–202 in L.H. Fraser and P.A. Keddy (eds.). The World's Largest Wetlands: Ecology and Conservation. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 488 p. Peat usually accumulates slowly at the rate of about a millimetre per year.Keddy, P.A. 2010. Wetland Ecology: Principles and Conservation (2nd edition). Cambridge University Press, UK. Cambridge. 497 p. Chapter 7. The estimated carbon content is 547 GtC (Northern Peatlands), 50 GtC (Tropical Peatlands) and 15 GtC (South America).Zicheng Yu, Julie Loisel, Daniel P. Brosseau, David W. Beilman, Stephanie J. Hunt. 2010. Global peatland dynamics since the Last Glacial Maximum. Geophysical Research Letters, Vol 37, L13402

Types of peat material

Peat material is either fibric, hemic, or sapric. Fibric peats are the least decomposed and consist of intact fibre. Hemic peats are partially decomposed and sapric are the most decomposed.WEB,weblink 5. CLASSIFICATION,, 2017-03-28, Phragmites peat are composed of reed grass, Phragmites australis, and other grasses. It is denser than many other types of peat.Engineers may describe a soil as peat which has a relatively high percentage of organic material. This soil is problematic because it exhibits poor consolidation properties – it cannot be easily compacted to serve as a stable foundation to support loads, such as roads or buildings.

Peatlands distribution

In a widely cited article, Joosten and Clarke (2002) defined peatlands or mires (which they claim are the same)Supported by the "Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGIS) under the [ Global Peatland Initiative], managed by Wetlands International in co-operation with the IUCN – Netherlands Committee, Alterra, the International Mire Conservation Group and the International Peatland Society." as,
or 3% of the land and freshwater surface of the planet. In these ecosystems are found one third of the world's soil carbon and 10% of global freshwater resources. These ecosystems are characterized by the unique ability to accumulate and store dead organic matter from Sphagnum and many other non-moss species, as peat, under conditions of almost permanent water saturation. Peatlands are adapted to the extreme conditions of high water and low oxygen content, of toxic elements and low availability of plant nutrients. Their water chemistry varies from alkaline to acidic. Peatlands occur on all continents, from the tropical to boreal and Arctic zones from sea level to high alpine conditions.|Joosten and Clarke 2002}}
Peatlands are areas of land with naturally formed layers of peat. They can be found in at least 175 countries and cover around 4 million square kilometres (1.5 million square miles); that is 3% of the world's land area. In Europe, peatlands extend to about {{cvt|515,000|km2}}.IUCN UK Commission of Inquiry on Peatlands {{webarchive|url= |date=2014-03-07 }} Full Report, IUCN UK Peatland Programme October 2011 About 60% of the world's wetlands are made of peat.Peat deposits are found in many places around the world, including northern Europe and North America. The North American peat deposits are principally found in Canada and the Northern United States. Some of the world's largest peatlands include the West Siberian Lowland, the Hudson Bay Lowlands, and the Mackenzie River Valley.Fraser, L.H. Fraser and P.A. Keddy (eds.). 2005. The World's Largest Wetlands: Ecology and Conservation. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. 488 p. and P.A. Keddy (eds.). 2005. The World’s Largest Wetlands: Ecology and Conservation. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK. 488 p.There is less peat in the Southern Hemisphere, in part because there is less land. That said, the vast Magellanic Moorland in South America (Southern Patagonia/Tierra del Fuego) is an extensive peat-dominated landscape. Peat can be found in New Zealand, Kerguelen, the Falkland Islands, and Indonesia (Kalimantan [Sungai Putri, Danau Siawan, Sungai Tolak], Rasau Jaya [West Kalimantan], and Sumatra). Indonesia has more tropical peatlands and mangrove forests than any other nation on earth, but Indonesia is losing wetlands by {{convert|100000|hectare}} per year.WEB,weblink Waspada Online, Waspada Online, 25 October 2015, About 7% of all peatlands have been exploited for agriculture and forestry.WEB,weblink World Energy Resources: Peat – World Energy Council 2013, Volcano Wood Fuels, World Energy Council, 2016-02-25, Under proper conditions, peat will turn into lignite coal over geologic periods of time.

General characteristics and uses

{{Refimprove section|date=February 2014}}File:Peat-Stack in Ness, Outer Hebrides, Scotland.jpg|thumb|A peat stack in Ness on the Isle of Lewis (ScotlandScotlandFile:Peatcuttingulsta.jpg|right|thumb|Worked bank in blanket bog, near Ulsta, Yell, Shetland IslandsShetland IslandsFile:Shovel-Falklands.jpg|thumb|Falkland IslandersFalkland Islanders(File:Feu de tourbe.JPG|thumb|Peat fire)Under pressure, water is forced out of peat, which is soft and easily compressed, and once dry can be used as fuel. In many countries, including Ireland and Scotland, peat has traditionally been used for cooking and domestic heating, and peat is stacked to dry in rural areas. It remains harvested on an industrial scale for this purpose in countries such as Ireland and Finland. Its insulating properties make it useful in industry.Although humans have many uses for peat, it presents severe problems at times. Wet or dry, it can be a major fire hazard. Peat fires may burn for great lengths of time, or smoulder underground and reignite after winter if an oxygen source is present. Because they are easily compressed under minimal weight, peat deposits pose major difficulties to builders of structures, roads, and railways. When the West Highland railway line was built across Rannoch Moor in western Scotland, its builders had to float the tracks on a multi-thousand-ton mattress of tree roots, brushwood, earth and ash.In the Bronze and Iron Ages, people used peat bogs for rituals to nature gods and spiritsweblink Bodies of the victims of such sacrifices have been found in various places in Scotland, England, Ireland, and especially northern Germany and Denmark. They are almost perfectly preserved by the tanning properties of the acidic water (see Tollund Man for one of the most famous examples of a bog body). Peat wetlands also used to have a degree of metallurgical importance in the Early Middle Ages, being the primary source of bog iron used to create swords and armour {{Citation needed|date=August 2019}}. Many peat swamps along the coast of Malaysia serve as a natural means of flood mitigation, with any overflow being absorbed by the peat, provided forests are still present to prevent peat fires{{Citation needed|date=August 2019}}.

Characteristics and uses by nation


{{See also|Peat energy in Finland}}File:Toppila power plant.JPG|thumb|left|The Toppila Power Station, a peat-fired facility in Oulu, FinlandFinlandThe climate, geography, and environment of Finland favours bog and peat bog formation. Thus, peat is available in considerable quantities. This abundant resource (often mixed with wood at an average of 2.6%) is burned to produce heat and electricity. Peat provides around 6.2% of Finland's annual energy production, second only to Ireland.weblink" title="">Renewable energy sources and peat, Ministry of Trade and Industry of Finland, last updated: 04.07.2005 The contribution of peat to greenhouse gas emissions of Finland can exceed 10 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide per year – equal to the total emissions of all passenger-car traffic in Finland.Finland classifies peat as a slowly renewing biomass fuel.weblink {{webarchive |url= |date=July 5, 2007 }} Peat producers in Finland often claim that peat is a special form of biofuel because of the relatively fast retake rate of released CO2 if the bog is not forested for the following 100 years. Also, agricultural and forestry-drained peat bogs actively release more CO2 annually than is released in peat energy production in Finland. The average regrowth rate of a single peat bog, however, is indeed slow, from 1,000 up to 5,000 years. Furthermore, it is a common practice to forest used peat bogs instead of giving them a chance to renew. This leads to lower levels of CO2 storage than the original peat bog.At 106 g CO2/MJ,The CO2 emission factor of peat fuel {{webarchive|url= |date=2010-07-07 }}. Retrieved on 2011-05-09. the carbon dioxide emissions of peat are higher than those of coal (at 94.6 g CO2/MJ) and natural gas (at 56.1). According to one study, increasing the average amount of wood in the fuel mixture from the current 2.6% to 12.5% would take the emissions down to 93 g CO2/MJ. That said, little effort is being made to achieve this.VTT 2004: Wood in peat fuel â€“ impact on the reporting of greenhouse gas emissions according to IPCC guidelines{{dead link|date=March 2018 |bot=InternetArchiveBot |fix-attempted=yes }}The International Mire Conservation Group (IMCG) in 2006 urged the local and national governments of Finland to protect and conserve the remaining pristine peatland ecosystems. This includes the cessation of drainage and peat extraction in intact mire sites and the abandoning of current and planned groundwater extraction that may affect these sites. A proposal for a Finnish peatland management strategy was presented to the government in 2011, after a lengthy consultation phase.WEB,weblink Suoseura – Finnish Peatland Society, 25 October 2015, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 4 March 2016,


File:BordnaMona 2930.jpg|thumb|left|Industrial-milled peat production in a section of the (Bog of Allen]] in the Irish Midlands: The 'turf' in the foreground is machine-produced for domestic use.)In Ireland, large-scale domestic and industrial peat usage is widespread. In the Republic of Ireland, a state-owned company called is responsible for managing peat extraction. It processes the extracted peat into milled peat which is used in power stations and sells processed peat fuel in the form of peat briquettes which are used for domestic heating. These are oblong bars of densely compressed, dried, and shredded peat. Peat moss is a manufactured product for use in garden cultivation. Turf (dried out peat sods) is also commonly used in rural areas.


File:Shatura steam power plant (2010).jpg|thumb|Shatura Power Station. Russia has the largest peat power capacity in the world]]Use of peat for energy production was prominent in the Soviet Union, especially in 1965. In 1929, over 40% of the Soviet Union's electric energy came from peat, which dropped to 1% by 1980.File:Peat Briquette Factory.jpg|thumb|The Bor Peat Briquette Factory, RussiaRussiaIn the 1960s, larger sections of swamps and bogs in Western Russia were drained for agricultural and mining purposes.WEB,weblink Serghey Stelmakovich, Russia institutes peat fire prevention program, August 9, 2010, dead,weblink" title="">weblink June 18, 2010, Plans are underway to increase peat output and increase peat's contribution to Russian energy generation.WEB,weblink MacDermott M, Russia plans mining peat environmental disaster, September 9, 2009, August 9, 2010, There is concern about the environmental impact as peat fields are flammable, drainage degrades ecosystems, and burning of peat releases carbon dioxide. Due to 2010 forest and peat fires, the Russian government is under heavy pressure to finance re-flooding of the previously drained bogs around Moscow. The initial costs for the programme are estimated to be about 20 to 25 billion rubles; that is close to 500 million euros (540 million USD).Currently, Russia is responsible for 17% of the world's peat production and 20% of that peat (1.5 million tons) is used for energy purposes.WEB, 2007 Survey of Energy Resources, World Energy Council 2007, 2007,weblink 2011-01-23, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 2011-04-09, WEB, Peat: Useful Resource or Hazard?, Russian Geographical Society, August 10, 2010,weblink 2011-01-29, Shatura Power Station in Moscow Oblast and Kirov Power Station in Kirov Oblast are the two largest peat power stations in the world.

The Netherlands

(File: 500vc ex leg copy.jpg|thumb|left|Peat covered area (brown) 2500 years BP in the Netherlands)2500 years ago, the area now named the Netherlands was largely covered with peat. Drainage, causing compaction and oxidation and excavation have reduced peatlands (>40 cm peat) to about {{cvt|2733|km2}}Joosten, Hans; Tanneberger, Franziska; Moen, Asbjørn. 2017. Mires and peatlands of Europe. Schweizerbart Science Publishers, Stuttgart, Germany. 780 p. Chapter "Netherlands". or 10% of the land area, mostly used as meadows. Drainage and excavation have lowered the surface of the peatlands. In the west of the country dikes and mills were built, creating polders so that dwelling and economic activities could continue below sea level, the first polder probably in 1533Reh, W., Steenbergen, C., Aten, D. 2007. Sea of Land, The polder as an experimental atlas of Dutch landscape architecture. 344 pp, Uitgeverij Architectura & Natura. {{ISBN|9789071123962}} and the last one in 1968. Harvesting of peat could continue in suitable locations as the lower peat layers below current sea level became exposed. This peat was deposited before the rise of the sea level in the Holocene. As a result approximate 26% of its areaSchiermeier, Quirin (5 July 2010). "Few fishy facts found in climate report". Nature. 466 (170): 170. doi:10.1038/466170a. {{PMID|20613812}}. and 21% of its population"Milieurekeningen 2008" (PDF). Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek. Retrieved 4 February 2010. of the Netherlands are presently below sea level. The deepest point is in the Zuidplaspolder, {{cvt|6.76|m}} below average sea level. (File:The Netherlands compared to sealevel.png|thumb|right|The Netherlands compared to sealevel)The Netherlands imported in 2017 2,078 million kg of peat (5.20 million m3 (400kg/m3 dry peatweblink 6.7% imported from Belgium, 56.5% from Germany, 8.9% from Estonia, 7.0% from Ireland, 5.4% from Latvia, 6.1% from Lithuania and 6.3% from Switzerland); 1,156 million kg was exported CBS,weblink Most is used in gardening and greenhouse horticulture.

United Kingdom


The extraction of peat from the Somerset Levels began during the Roman times and has been carried out since the Levels were first drained.WEB, Somerset Peat Paper â€“ Issues consultation for the Minerals Core Strategy,weblink Somerset County Council, PDF, 30 November 2011, 7, September 2009, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 10 March 2012, On Dartmoor, there were several commercial distillation plants formed and run by the British Patent Naphtha Company in 1844. These produced naphtha on a commercial scale from the high-quality local peat.weblink, Dartmoor historyFenn's, Whixall and Bettisfield Mosses is an element of a post-Ice Age peat bog that straddles the England–Wales border and contains many rare plant and animal species due to the acidic environment created by the peat.WEB,weblink Archived copy, 2013-10-27, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 2013-10-29, Only lightly hand-dug, it is now a national nature reserve and is being restored to its natural condition.Industrial extraction of peat occurred at the Thorne Moor site, outside Doncaster near to the village of Hatfield. Government policy incentivised commercial removal to peat for agricultural use. This caused much destruction of the area during the 1980's. The removal of the peat resulted in later flooding further downstream at Goole due to the loss of water retaining peatlandsWalker, M. D. Sphagnum. Sicklebrook Press. {{ISBN|978-0-359-41313-3}}. Recently regeneration of peatland has occurred as part of the Thorne Moors project organsed by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust.

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, there is small-scale domestic turf cutting in rural areas, but areas of bogs have been diminished because of changes in agriculture. In response, afforestation has seen the establishment of tentative steps towards conservation such as Peatlands Park, County Armagh which is an Area of Special Scientific Interest.WEB, Peatlands Park ASSI, NI Environment Agency,weblink 14 August 2010,


Some Scotch whisky distilleries, such as those on Islay, use peat fires to dry malted barley. The drying process takes about 30 hours. This gives the whiskies a distinctive smoky flavour, often called "peatiness".WEB,weblink Peat and Its Significance in Whisky, 25 October 2015, The peatiness, or degree of peat flavour, of a whisky, is calculated in ppm of phenol. Normal Highland whiskies have a peat level of up to 30 ppm, and the whiskies on Islay usually have up to 50 ppm. In rare types like the Octomore,WEB,weblink Octomore 5 Years 03.1, 25 October 2015, the whisky can have more than 100 ppm of phenol. Scotch Ales can also use peat roasted malt, imparting a similar smoked flavor.

Generic characteristics and uses


In Sweden, farmers use dried peat to absorb excrement from cattle that are wintered indoors. The most important property of peat is retaining moisture in container soil when it is dry while preventing the excess of water from killing roots when it is wet. Peat can store nutrients although it is not fertile itself â€“ it is polyelectrolytic with a high ion-exchange capacity due to its oxidized lignin. Peat is discouraged as a soil amendment by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, England, since 2003.WEB, Peat-free compost at Kew, RBG Kew, 2011,weblink 2011-06-24,weblink" title="">weblink 2011-09-16, dead, While bark-based peat-free potting soil mixes are on the rise, particularly in the U.K., peat remains an important raw material for horticulture in some other European countries, Canada, as well as parts of the United States. However, it is recommended to treat peat thermally, e.g., through soil steaming in order to kill pests and reactivate nutrients.{{Citation needed|date=June 2019|reason=Any science behind this claim? If peat is a sterile environment, where do the pest come from? Reactivating nutrient through soil steaming. Please provide a citation for this claim of re-appropriation of nutrients.}}

Freshwater aquaria

Peat is sometimes used in freshwater aquaria. It is seen most commonly in soft water or blackwater river systems such as those mimicking the Amazon River basin. In addition to being soft in texture and therefore suitable for demersal (bottom-dwelling) species such as Corydoras catfish, peat is reported to have a number of other beneficial functions in freshwater aquaria. It softens water by acting as an ion exchanger; it also contains substances that are beneficial for plants, and for the reproductive health of fishes. Peat can prevent algae growth and kill microorganisms. Peat often stains the water yellow or brown due to the leaching of tannins.BOOK, Scheurmann, Ines, (trans. for Barron's Educational Series, Hauppauge, New York: 2000), Natural Aquarium Handbook, The, 1985, Gräfe & Unzer GmbH, Munich, Germany,

Water filtration

Peat is used in water filtration, such as for the treatment of septic tank effluent and for urban runoff.


Peat is widely used in balneotherapy (the use of bathing to treat disease). Many traditional spa treatments include peat as part of peloids. Such health treatments have an enduring tradition in European countries including Poland, the Czech Republic, Germany, and Austria. Some of these old spas date back to the 18th century and are still active today. The most common types of peat application in balneotherapy are peat muds, poultices, and suspension baths.International Peatland Society{{dead link|date=March 2018 |bot=InternetArchiveBot |fix-attempted=yes }} Peat Balneology, Medicine and Therapeutics

Peat archives

Authors Rydin and Jeglum in Biology of Habitats described the concept of peat archives, a phrase coined by influential peatland scientist Harry Godwin in 1981.BOOK, Godwin, Sir Harry, 1981, The archives of the peat bogs, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, {{SfnRef, Godwin, 1981, }}BOOK, Håkan, Rydin, John K., Jeglum, 18 July 2013, 400, The Biology of Peatlands, 2, Biology of Habitats, 8 Jun 2006, University of Oxford Press, 0198528728, {{SfnRef, Rydin, Jeglum, 2014, }}{{citation |last=Keddy |first=P.A. |year=2010 |title=Wetland Ecology: Principles and Conservation |edition=2 |publisher=Cambridge University Press |location=Cambridge, UK. |pages=323–325|ref={{SfnRef|Keddy|2010}}}}In Quaternary Palaeoecology, first published in 1980, Birks and Birks described how paleoecological studies "of peat can be used to reveal what plant communities were present (locally and regionally), what time period each community occupied, how environmental conditions changed, and how the environment affected the ecosystem in that time and place."BOOK, Quaternary Palaeoecology, Harry John Betteley, Birks, Hilary H., Birks, Blackburn Press, 1980, 2004, 289 pages, Scientists continue to compare modern mercury (Hg) accumulation rates in bogs with historical natural-archives records in peat bogs and lake sediments to estimate the potential human impacts on the biogeochemical cycle of mercury, for example.{{citation |url= |format=PDF |series=Working Papers of the Finnish Forest Research Institute |number=128|title=Modelling Past Mercury Deposition from Peat Bogs – The Influence of Peat Structure and 210Pb Mobility |first1=Harald |last1=Biester |first2=Richard |last2=Bindler |accessdate=21 October 2014 |year=2009}} Over the years, different dating models and technologies for measuring date sediments and peat profiles accumulated over the last 100–150 years, have been used, including the widely used vertical distribution of 210Pb, the inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-SMS),WEB,weblink Archived copy, 2014-10-22, dead,weblink" title="">weblink 2016-03-04, and more recently the initial penetration (IP).JOURNAL, Modeling the downward transport of 210Pb in mires and repercussions on the deriv, 2013EGUGA..1511054O, (File:Peat haggs at start of Allt Lagan a' Bhainne tributary on Eilrig - - 1420692.jpg|thumb|Peat hags at the start of Allt Lagan a' Bhainne tributary on Eilrig)

Peat hags

Peat "hags" are a form of erosion that occurs at the sides of gullies that cut into the peat or, sometimes, in isolation.Peat Hags {{Webarchive|url= |date=2016-07-12 }} at, website of the Yorkshire Peat Partnership. Retrieved 9 July 2016. Hags may result when flowing water cuts downwards into the peat and when fire or overgrazing exposes the peat surface. Once the peat is exposed in these ways, it is prone to further erosion by wind, water, and livestock. The result is overhanging vegetation and peat. Hags are too steep and unstable for vegetation to establish itself, so they continue to erode unless restorative action is taken.{{clear right}}

Environmental and ecological issues|thumb|Increase, and change relative to previous year, of the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxidecarbon dioxideThe distinctive ecological conditions of peat wetlands provide a habitat for distinctive fauna and flora. For example, whooping cranes nest in North American peatlands, while Siberian cranes nest in the West Siberian peatland. Such habitats also have many species of wild orchids and carnivorous plants. It takes centuries for a peat bog to recover from disturbance. (For more on biological communities, see wetland, bog or fen.)The world's largest peat bog is located in Western Siberia. It is the size of France and Germany combined. Recent studies show that it is thawing for the first time in 11,000 years. As the permafrost melts, it could release billions of tonnes of methane gas into the atmosphere. The world's peatlands are thought to contain 180 to 455 billion metric tonnes of sequestered carbon, and they release into the atmosphere 20 to 45 million metric tons of methane annually. The peatlands' contribution to long-term fluctuations in these atmospheric gases has been a matter of considerable debate.JOURNAL, Glen M., MacDonald, David W., Beilman, Konstantine V., Kremenetski, Yongwei, Sheng, Laurence C., Smith, yes, Andrei A., Velichko, 2006, Rapid early development of circumarctic peatlands and atmospheric CH4 and CO2 variations, Science (journal), Science, 314, 5797, 285–288, 10.1126/science.1131722, 2006Sci...314..285M, One of the characteristics for peat is the bioaccumulations of metals often concentrated in the peat. Accumulated mercury is of significant environmental concern.JOURNAL, Mitchell, Carla P. J., Branfireun, Brian A., Kolka, Randall K., yes, 2008, Spatial Characteristics of Net Methylmercury Production Hot Spots in Peatlands, Environmental Science and Technology, American Chemical Society, 42, 4, 1010–1016,weblinkweblink" title="">weblink 31 October 2008, live, 10.1021/es0704986, 2008EnST...42.1010M,

Peat drainage

Large areas of organic wetland (peat) soils are currently drained for agriculture, forestry, and peat extraction. This process is taking place all over the world. This not only destroys the habitat of many species but also heavily fuels climate change.{{citation needed|date=August 2018}} As a result of peat drainage, the organic carbon â€“ which built over thousands of years and is normally underwater â€“ is suddenly exposed to the air. It decomposes and turns into carbon dioxide ({{CO2}}), which is released into the atmosphere.Content from, Wetlands International | Peatlands and CO2 Emissions The global {{CO2}} emissions from drained peatlands have increased from 1,058 Mton in 1990 to 1,298 Mton in 2008 (a 20% increase). This increase has particularly taken place in developing countries, of which Indonesia, China, Malaysia, and Papua New Guinea are the fastest-growing top emitters. This estimate excludes emissions from peat fires (conservative estimates amount to at least 4,000 Mton/{{CO2}}-eq./yr for south-east Asia). With 174 Mton/{{CO2}}-eq./yr the EU is after Indonesia (500 Mton) and before Russia (161 Mton) the world's second-largest emitter of drainage-related peatland {{CO2}} (excl. extracted peat and fires). Total {{CO2}} emissions from the worldwide 500,000 km2 of degraded peatland may exceed 2.0 Gtons (including emissions from peat fires) which is almost 6% of all global carbon{{dead link|date=December 2017 |bot=InternetArchiveBot |fix-attempted=yes }}, The Global Peat CO2 Picture, Wetlands International and Greifswald University, 2010

{{anchor|Fires|Peat Fires}} Peat fires

{{See also|Slash and burn|Arctic methane release}}File:TOMS indonesia smog lrg.jpg|thumb|left|Smoke and ozone pollution from IndonesiaIndonesiaPeat has a high carbon content and can burn under low moisture conditions. Once ignited by the presence of a heat source (e.g., a wildfire penetrating the subsurface), it smoulders. These smouldering fires can burn undetected for very long periods of time (months, years, and even centuries) propagating in a creeping fashion through the underground peat layer.Despite the damage that the burning of raw peat can cause, bogs are naturally subject to wildfires and depend on the wildfires to keep woody competition from lowering the water table and shading out many bog plants. Several families of plants including the carnivorous Sarracenia (trumpet pitcher), Dionaea (Venus flytrap), Utricularia (bladderworts) and non-carnivorous plants such as the sandhills lily, toothache grass and many species of orchid are now threatened and in some cases endangered from the combined forces of human drainage, negligence, and absence of fire.WEB,weblink Meadowview Biological Research Station – Preserving and Restoring Pitcher Plant Bogs, Michael Kevin Smith, 25 October 2015, WEB,weblink New lily species found in eastern N.C. Sandhills, 25 October 2015,weblink{{dead link|date=March 2018 |bot=InternetArchiveBot |fix-attempted=yes }}The recent burning of peat bogs in Indonesia, with their large and deep growths containing more than 50 billion tonnes of carbon, has contributed to increases in world carbon dioxide levels.WEB,weblink Vast Peat Fires Threaten Health and Boost Global Warming, Lim, XiaoZhi, Scientific American, en, 2019-08-16, Peat deposits in Southeast Asia could be destroyed by 2040.NEWS,weblink BBC News, Asian peat fires add to warming, 2005-09-03, 2010-05-22, BOOK, Joel S. Levine, Wildland fires and the environment: a global synthesis,weblink 9 May 2011, 31 December 1999, UNEP/Earthprint, 978-92-807-1742-6, web link {{webarchive|url= |date=2005-09-02 }}It is estimated that in 1997, peat and forest fires in Indonesia released between 0.81 and 2.57 Gt of carbon; equivalent to 13–40 percent of the amount released by global fossil fuel burning, and greater than the carbon uptake of the world's biosphere. These fires may be responsible for the acceleration in the increase in carbon dioxide levels since 1998.Cat Lazaroff, Indonesian Wildfires Accelerated Global Warming, Environment News ServiceFred Pearce Massive peat burn is speeding climate change, New Scientist, 6 November 2004 More than 100 peat fires in Kalimantan and East Sumatra have continued to burn since 1997; each year, these peat fires ignite new forest fires above the ground.In North America, peat fires can occur during severe droughts throughout their occurrence, from boreal forests in Canada to swamps and fens in the subtropical southern Florida Everglades.WEB, Florida Everglades,weblink U.S. Geological Survey, 11 June 2013, 15 January 2013, Once a fire has burnt through the area, hollows in the peat are burnt out, and hummocks are desiccated but can contribute to Sphagnum recolonization.JOURNAL, Nicole, Fenton, Nicolas, Lecomte, Sonia, Légaré, yes, Yves, Bergeron, Paludification in black spruce (Picea mariana) forests of eastern Canada: Potential factors and management implications, Forest Ecology and Management, 213, 1–3, 2005, 151–159, 10.1016/j.foreco.2005.03.017, In the summer of 2010, an unusually high heat wave of up to {{convert|40|C|F}} ignited large deposits of peat in Central Russia, burning thousands of houses and covering the capital of Moscow with a toxic smoke blanket. The situation remained critical until the end of August 2010.NEWS,weblink Fog from peat fires blankets Moscow amid heat wave, BBC, 26 July 2010, NEWS,weblink Russia begins to localize fires, others rage, Associated Press, 30 July 2010, In June 2019, despite some forest fire prevention methods being put in place, peat firesThanks to climate change, parts of the Arctic are on fire. Scientists are concerned in the arctic emitted 50 megatonnes of CO2, which is equal to Sweden's total annual emissions.'Unprecedented': more than 100 Arctic wildfires burn in worst ever season The peat fires are linked to climate change, as they are much more likely to occur nowadays due to this effect.WEB,weblink Why the Arctic is smouldering, Cormier, Zoe,, en, 2019-08-28, JOURNAL, Turetsky, Merritt R., Benscoter, Brian, Page, Susan, Rein, Guillermo, van der Werf, Guido R., Watts, Adam, 2014-12-23, Global vulnerability of peatlands to fire and carbon loss,weblink Nature Geoscience, en, 8, 1, 11–14, 10.1038/ngeo2325, 1752-0894,

Wise use and protection

In June 2002, the United Nations Development Programme launched the Wetlands Ecosystem and Tropical Peat Swamp Forest Rehabilitation Project. This project was targeted to last for 5 years, and brings together the efforts of various non-government organisations.In November 2002, the International Peatland (formerly Peat) Society (IPS) and the International Mire Conservation Group (IMCG) published guidelines on the "Wise Use of Mires and Peatlands â€“ Backgrounds and Principles including a framework for decision-making". The aim of this publication is to develop mechanisms that can balance the conflicting demands on the global peatland heritage, to ensure its wise use to meet the needs of humankind.In June 2008, the IPS published the book Peatlands and Climate Change, summarising the currently available knowledge on the topic. In 2010, IPS presented a "Strategy for Responsible Peatland Management", which can be applied worldwide for decision-making.

See also

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External links

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