Peatlands are a type of wetlands that occur in almost every country on Earth, currently covering 3% of the global land surface. These are heterogeneous mixture of plant material (mosses, humus etc).
In these areas, year-round waterlogged conditions slow the process of plant decomposition to such an extent that dead plants accumulate to form peat. Over millennia this material builds up and becomes several metres thick.
Peatlands are the largest natural terrestrial carbon store; the area covered by near natural peatland worldwide is storing more carbon than all other vegetation types in the world combined.
Damaged peatlands are a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, annually releasing almost 6% of global anthropogenic CO2 emissions. Peatland restoration can therefore bring significant emissions reductions.
They are found in permafrost regions towards the poles and at high altitudes, in coastal areas, beneath tropical rainforest and in boreal (taiga) forests.
In India, peatlands occupy roughly 320-1,000 square kilometres area.
Peatlands' ImportancePeatlands are the largest natural terrestrial carbon store.
In their natural, wet state peatlands provide vital ecosystem services.
By regulating water flows, they help minimise the risk of flooding and drought and prevent seawater intrusion.
In many parts of the world, peatlands supply food, fibre and other local products that sustain local economies.
They also preserve important ecological and archaeological information such as pollen records and human artefacts.
They act as a Natural firebreaks between sections of forest.