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How do peatlands store carbon?

Peatlands are a type of wetlands that occur in almost every country on Earth, currently covering 3% of the global land surface. The term ‘peatland’ refers to the peat soil and the wetland habitat growing on its surface.

In these areas, year-round waterlogged conditions slow the process of plant decomposition to such an extent that dead plants accumulate to form peat. Carbon is retained in the soil as layers of peat build up. Over millennia this material builds up and becomes several metres thick.

When disturbed or drained, peatlands can become significant sources of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Conversely, if disturbed peatlands can be rehabilitated or restored, GHG emissions can be averted, and carbon sequestration can begin again.

Peatlands are highly significant to global efforts to combat climate change, as well as wider sustainable development goals. The protection and restoration of peatlands is vital in the transition towards a low-carbon and circular economy.

For more information on peatlands and their potential to store carbon please see the following articles or resources: