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:

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
    • 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.