Figure: Peatland area per country (%). Brown are the countries with the most peatland surface.
Peatlands are found in almost every country of the world, but occur primarily in the boreal, sub arctic and tropical zones, as well as in appropriate zones in mountains. They cover over 4 million km2 worldwide, occur in over 180 countries and represent at least a third of the global wetland resource.
Peatlands are natural ecosystems with high value for biodiversity conservation, climate regulation and human welfare. Peatlands are wetland ecosystems characterised by the accumulation of organic matter (peat) derived from dead and decaying plant material under conditions of permanent water saturation.
Peatlands may be naturally forested or naturally open and vegetated with mosses, sedges or shrubs. Examples are the permafrost areas of Russia and Canada and the highlands of the Andes and Himalaya, where dead plants hardly decompose due to the wet and cold conditions.Other examples of areas endowed with extensive peatlands are the lowlands of humid tropical forests in South-east Asia.