Chapter 1.1 The history of peat formation

The process by which peat is formed defines its characteristics, as does the location. This is why inland peat has different characteristics from peat formed around rivers and coastal areas.

The components that make up peatlands.

Peatland is formed through the accumulation of peat in swampy, water-logged conditions.

Decaying, organic materials accumulate for thousands of years and form a thick sediment layer known as peat. Peat is usually found in wetland areas, such as swamps, basins between rivers, and coasts.

Peat started forming after the last Ice Age, as the Earth warmed up (around 9,600 BCE). It is known as inland peat as it formed on continents. As sea levels began to rise, peat accumulated near deltas and coastal areas and was enriched with the minerals from tidal rivers and seawater.

Peatland is twice as carbon-rich as any existing forest in the world. When peatlands dry up, are damaged or destroyed, they release their stored carbon into the atmosphere. This contributes severely to greenhouse gas emission levels – and creates negative effects on a global scale.