Mire stratigraphy and peat resources in Latvia

Laimdota Kalnina, Agris Lacis and Valerijs Kozlovs

After Wise Use – The Future of Peatlands, Proceedings of the 13th International Peat Congress: Pristine Mire Landscapes

Tullamore, Ireland

holocene, peat-extraction, peatlands, stratigraphy

Kalnina 2008: Mire stratigraphy and peat resources in Latvia


At the present time there are more than 6,800 peatlands in Latvia, which cover approximately 10.7% of its territory. The first records on peat extraction in Latvia are from the early 18th century. Peat extraction and utilisation for industrial purposes in Latvia, as in the other Baltic States, started at the beginning of the 20th century; however, large areas of untouched peatlands have remained. It is very important to have reasonable peatland management to avoid the Western European experience, where nearly all peatlands have vanished due to intensive peat extraction for fuel and for horticultural purposes. Mire stratigraphy has been used for estimation of peat age, calculation of accumulation rate, and understanding of mire formation and development conditions. It helps also to find differences of accumulation rate and resource values between raised bogs and fens. The use of peat resources is considered to be sustainable if the rate of excavation does not exceed the rate of peat growth. Therefore, the main challenge is achieving a sustainable use of peat resources by maintaining the balance between peat cutting, natural growth, peat recultivation and nature protection.