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Peat is harvested as an important source of fuel in certain parts of the world.By volume, there are about 4 trillion cubic metres (5.2 trillion cubic yards) of peat in the world, covering a total of around 2% of the global land area (about 3 million square kilometres or 1.2 million square miles), containing about 8 billion terajoules of energy.Peat forms when plant material does not fully decay in acidic and anaerobic conditions.It is composed mainly of wetland vegetation: principally bog plants including mosses, sedges, and shrubs. This slowly creates wetter conditions that allow the area of wetland to expand.They cover over 4 million square kilometres [1.5 million square miles] or 3% of the land and freshwater surface of the planet.In these ecosystems are found one third of the world’s soil carbon and 10% of global freshwater resources.
Peat deposits are found in many places around the world, including northern Europe and North America.Because organic matter accumulates over thousands of years, peat deposits provide records of past vegetation and climate by preserving plant remains, such as pollen.This allows humans to reconstruct past environments and study changes in human land use.The North American peat deposits are principally found in Canada and the Northern United States.Some of the world's largest peatlands include the West Siberian Lowland, the Hudson Bay Lowlands, and the Mackenzie River Valley.
Peatlands are areas of land with naturally formed layers of peat.