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 values, that an entity has as a means to an end, a function. For peatlands and mires, this means:

Material life-support values

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

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

Regulation functions:

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

Non-material life-support values

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 value:

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

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