About Peatlands

Peatlands are wetland landscapes that are characterised by waterlogged organic soils made of dead & decaying plants.

Image © Clifton Bain

About Peatlands

Peatlands are areas of land, habitats, supported by a naturally accumulated layer of peat. Peat soils are formed from carbon rich, dead and decaying plant material under waterlogged conditions.

As iconic landscapes peatlands offer breathing spaces for millions of people, support livelihoods and provide a sense of place for many communities. The peat itself harbours a rich palaeo-ecological and historic archive with preserved artefacts from past human societies and a wealth of information about our changing environment, land management and climate. Peatlands are important source catchments for drinking water and also have a role in the regulation of water flows. They also support species and habitats that depend on often extreme, waterlogged conditions are of international importance for biodiversity conservation.

Peatlands cover 3% of the world's surface yet hold 30% of the soil carbon.

 

 

Peatlands cover 3% of the world’s land area – an estimated 4 million km2.

Peatlands are the world’s largest terrestrial carbon stock – storing at least 550 Gigatonnes of carbon globally – more than twice the carbon stored in all the world’s forests.

Peatlands are found in 180 countries worldwide and span across all continents from naturally forested peatlands in Europe and tropical peat swamps in South East Asia, to vast permafrost area of Russia and Canada, and high mountain peatlands in the Andes and Himalayas. 

Distribution of peatland across the world


 

Peatlands are also known as: moors, bogs, mires, peat swamp forests, permafrost tundra, peat moss, muskegs, fens… 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Above: Estimated distribution of peatlands across the world.

Dawn at Marches Mosses by Stephen Barlow
Marches Mosses marks 30-year milestone in fight against climate change An internationally important lowland raised peat bog between England and Wales celebrates its 30th…
Virtual Peatland Pavilion
Virtual Peatland Pavilion for COP26 UNFCCCWe are delighted to launch a new dome in the Virtual Peatland Pavilion for COP26 UNFCCC.
Peat-free Horticulture: Demonstrating Success
New report shows peat-free opportunity for horticulture industry'Peat-free Horticulture – Demonstrating Success' is now the third publication in the series and was…
Peatland Pavilion at COP26
Peatland Pavilion at UNFCCC COP26 - Online Registration openThe Peatland Pavilion at UNFCCC COP26 will highlight the importance of global peatlands for the…
A virtual tour will include peatland restoration research at SRUC's Kirkton and Auchtertyre farms.
Climate solutions from peatlands to parasitesAs world leaders arrive in Glasgow for the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), scientific experts…
Figure 2
Research reveals a quarter of Europe’s peatlands are degraded, ahead of key climate and biodiversity summitsNew research finds that 25% of Europe’s peatlands are degraded, increasing to 50% -120,000km2- when…
MFFP image
Peak District study reveals depths of carbon stored in threatened landscapesWith the UN Climate Conference (COP26) being held in Glasgow in under one months’ time, a new study…
WaterLANDS logo
WaterLANDS: New European Green Deal project launched to lead largescale restoration of European wetlandsAn ambitious project has been launched to tackle largescale restoration of Europe’s wetlands, with…
A detail from the map indicating areas of the highest carbon potential (in red) derived from the peat motion map covering the period 2016-21.  Potential carbon savings and their market value per annum are indicated for the different areas highlighted.
Satellite Map Identifies Peatland Areas where Restoration has the Greatest Carbon ImpactPeatland organisations and experts from across the globe have joined together to pledge their…
Peatland Pavilion concept
Peatland Pavilion will feature at UN Climate Change Conference (COP26)The Peatland Pavilion will provide a hub for highlighting the important role that peatlands play…
Bord na mona
United Nations recognizes major Irish Peatland Restoration initiativeDianna Kopansky of the United Nations Environment Programme has recognised the initiative led by…
GPI logo
Open call! Your opportunity to participate as a Contributing Author for the GPI’s upcoming Global Peatlands AssessmentThe Global Peatlands Initiative are currently looking for Contributing Authors (CAs) to participate…