People utilize peatlands in many different ways and peatlands mean different things to different people. Tropical and temperate peatlands have vastly different uses, histories and contemporary threats. The social and cultural perspectives of peatlands must be understood in order for these values of peatlands to be acknowledged in decision making for peatland management.
The economic and political interests dominate policy making and are significant, yet plurality in the valuation of peatlands is important to reach more equitable outcomes. This is particularly the case when peatland mismanagement creates burdens for some people and benefits for others.
Understanding the full spectrum of flows of values for peatlands is needed to map these adequately. Indeed, values, attitudes and aspirations are not fixed, and rather adapt, reshape and evolve in cultures and societies over time. We attempt to capture the diverse values of peatlands, the way in which peatland change interacts with these values, and the way in which values are shifting over time in relation to peatlands.
The social and cultural research of tropical peatlands and temperate mires is necessary to be carried out interdisciplinarily, and our research is represented by various disciplines, for example in the study of history, literature and archeology, as well as folklore, ethnology and cultural anthropology. This includes also political economic analysis, sustainability science, governance and impact evaluation.
In addition to research, we engage in diverse communication pathways to present the cultural meaning, history and uses of peatlands, for example through museums, literature and poetry.
In a many mire areas, nature and landscape are to be uniformly protected and developed. The peatland landscape seems like a mosaic of natural and man-made puzzle pieces. The diversity of different stages of bog development, landscape structures and land use constitute a unique habitat for a wide variety of wildlife. They become increasingly attractive areas for active nature experience and recreation.
Many peatlands show traces of human activity from prehistoric times right up to the present. Bog bodies, wooden trackways across moors, votives of all kinds are witnesses of possible religious functions linked to peatlands dating back thousands of years. Peat has been used as a main source of energy for cities and countries all over Europe and elsewhere in the world since the Middle Ages. Buildings, museums and characteristic settlements form physical links with this past.