Peatlands are mystical, soothing, and peaceful environments that have inspired countless art, literature, and film. Some people visit them regularly to relax, learn and observe the wonders of nature. Some people have never visited at all.
In Finland, peat-rich boglands are a familiar part of the natural landscape, when in some countries, they are a rare sight. But whatever role they play in our everyday lives, we can't deny their part in reducing climate change and their vast influence on our world.
Nature's super carbon sinks
Peatlands cover just 3% of the earth’s land surface area but is the world's second most effective carbon sink after the ocean. When it comes to locking away carbon, even vast forests can't beat peatlands. Forests are vulnerable to fires and logging, which releases carbon into the atmosphere. Peatlands, on the other hand, are gradually changing the carbon into a more permanent form.
What's more, peatlands offer habitat for many endangered species. Their moist environments mean bogs are hot spots for insects, which in turn attract hungry forest fowl such as willow grouses, finches, and cuckoos. There are diverse plants, too. Peatlands also act as a natural filter to prevent contaminants from entering our water system.
Burning peat ain't so neat
Peat can be used to stabilize soil, make animal bedding, and generate power. Peat is often found as clean and renewable resource, but in fact, burning peat emits more carbon dioxide than burning coal and speeds up the climate change.
Even farming peat is bad for the environment, as draining swamps strains natural water systems and destroys natural habitats. When peat disappears from a swamp, organic matter and minerals like humus and iron disappear, too, as they get washed away during the draining process.
Sticking up for the swamps
Thankfully, more and more people and organizations are sticking up for the swamp. In Finland, dozens of peatlands have been saved from peat extraction by the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation. The organization works to stop government support for peat burning, prevent unnecessary draining of bogland, and ensure that every natural bog in Finland wins official protection.
Home to a unique mix of flora and fauna and our greatest natural defence against global warming, bogs support life, inspire art, and cleans our planet. So, if you want to keep our peatlands beautiful, you can support the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation with one-time or monthly donations and by signing up as a member.