Arctic Peatlands Diversity and Natural Features – the Gaps in Knowledge

Minayeva T., Sirin A.

Proceedings of the 14th International Peat Congress


arctic, human-impacts, land-degradation, peatlands, permafrost

Minayeva, Sirin 2012: Arctic Peatlands Diversity and Natural Features – the Gaps in Knowledge


Theme I.  Inventory, stratigraphy and conservation of mires and peatlands


Peatlands are the dominant type of Arctic terrestrial wetlands. They are the key landscapes in Arctic and the most of those types depend on permafrost. Arctic peatlands provide a different ecosystem services, including crucial regulation functions for the permafrost protection, flood control, carbon accumulation, habitat maintenance and others. Peatlands are significant for the biodiversity in the Arctic and the worldwide through bird migration routes or flyways. Arctic peatlands are highly-integrated ecosystems being extremely fragile to the both natural and human-induced perturbations. They are not well studied, but certain trends are already clearly evident. Rapid industrial development in the Arctic causes effects that are additional to those caused by climate change. Even the traditional land use (e.g. reindeer herding) is becoming more intensive. The higher intensity of the land use increases the land degradation and the loss of peaty soils, contributes to the melting of the permafrost, and feedback the climate change through increased methane emissions from peaty soils and melting ground, and re-moval of organic matter by erosion. Peatland conservation needs and an adequate ecosystem management are not fully appreciated due to significant gaps in basic information, especially on peatland values, diversity, distribution, and ecosystem services.