This book provides an introduction to peatlands for the non-specialist student reader and for all those concerned about environmental protection, and is an essential guide to peatland history and heritage for scientists and enthusiasts.
Peat is formed when vegetation partially decays in a waterlogged environment and occurs extensively throughout both temperate and tropical regions. Interest in peatlands is currently high due to the degradation of global peatlands which is disrupting hydrology and contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. This book opens by explaining how peat is formed, its properties and worldwide distribution, and defines related terms such as mires, wetlands, bogs and marshes. There is discussion of the ecology and wildlife of peatlands as well as their ability to preserve pollen and organic remains as environmental archives. It also addresses the history, heritage and cultural exploitation of peat, extending back to pre-Roman times, and the degradation of peatlands over the centuries, particularly as a source of fuel but more recently for commercial horticulture. Other chapters discuss the ecosystem services delivered by peatlands, and how their destruction is contributing to biodiversity loss, flooding or drought, and climate change. Finally, the many current peatland restoration projects around the world are highlighted.
Overall the book provides a wide-ranging but concise overview of peatlands from both a natural and social science perspective, and will be invaluable for students of ecology, geography, environmental studies and history.