Peatlands are important for four main reasons:

  • They form a unique natural habitat that supports biodiversity and species at risk (plants, birds and insects).
  • Peatlands act as important stores of carbon (one third of the world’s soil carbon). Because plants do not decompose completely, the carbon held within them becomes ‘locked’ into the peat. When peat is extracted and used in gardening the stored carbon is released as CO2, a greenhouse gas, which exacerbates global warming and climate change.
  • They act as 'archives', offering unique historical evidence on the area and its inhabitants.
  • They play an important role in the global hydrological cycle helping maintain both water quantity and quality: they contain 10% of global freshwater resources. In the UK peatlands are thought to play an important role in flood prevention.

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