Functions of Peatlands

According to the “Wise Use of Mires and Peatlands” by Donal Clarke and Hans Joosten (2002), the following functions of mires and peatlands can be identified:

berries karpalo peatland

Instrumental values

Instrumental values are means to an end, i.e. are the beneficial effect of one entity on another entity.

Instrumental values are commonly subdivided into material and non-material life support functions with various subdivisions.

Material life-support values

Material life-support function include regulation, carrier and production function.

Regulation functions:

  • regulation of global climate
  • regulation of regional and local climates
  • regulation of catchment hydrology
  • regulation of catchment hydrochemistry
  • regulation of soil conditions

Carrier functions – providing space for:

  • water reservoirs for hydro-electricity, irrigation, drinking and cooling water, and recreation
  • fish ponds
  • urban, industrial, and infrastructure development
  • waste deposits / landfill
  • military exercises and defence
  • prisons
  • transport and herding

Production functions:

  • Peat extracted and used ex situ as/for:
    • humus and organic fertiliser in agriculture
    • substrate in horticulture
    • energy generation
    • raw material for chemistry
    • bedding material
    • filter and absorbent material
    • peat textiles
    • building and insulation material
    • balneology, therapy, medicine, and body care
    • flavour enhancer
  • Provision of drinking water
  • Wild plants growing on mires and peatlands as/for:
    • food
    • raw material for industrial products
    • medicine
  • Wild animals for food, fur and medicine
  • peat substrate in situ for
    • agriculture and horticulture
    • forestry

Non-material life-support values

Non-material life-support values include informational and transformation & option functions:

Informational functions:

  • social-amenity and history functions
  • recreation and aestetic functions
  • symbolisation, spirituality and existence functions
  • signalisation and cognition functions

Transformation and option functions:

  • possibility of modifying preferences, e.g. development of new tastes, improvement of social skills, growing awareness
  • creating reassurance that their biological and regulation functions will be there for future generations

Intrinsic values:

Furthermore, peatlands haveĀ intrinsic moral values, the value an entity has in itself, irrespective of its importance to others.

Further reading

Joosten, H. & Clarke, D. 2002: Wise Use of Mires and Peatlands: Background and principles including a framework for decision making. IMCG/IPS

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