construction material, insulation, textiles, cosmetics and the production of various chemicals (Joosten et al., 2012). Before 1990, the largest users of peat energy were the countries of the former Soviet Union, but today most peat is extracted in the European Union, notably Finland, as well as in Canada (Minayeva & Grundling, 2010; FAO, 2014). Infrastructure development On a similar scale to peat extraction, infrastructure development such as the construction of new roads has a significant impact. For example, in Brunei one of the last-surviving pristine peat swamp forests in Southeast Asia is threatened by the development of an oil pipeline and its service road which drains the middle of a peat dome and slowly desiccates the peat and forest. The conversion of peatlands in coastal areas, including mangroves and saltmarshes, to meet urban development and waste disposal needs also furthers their demise (Parish et al., 2008). Peatlands are also being impacted by the development of wind farms in some European countries, and oil and gas exploitation infrastructure in North America, Russia, Nigeria and Western Amazonia (Joosten & Clarke, 2002).

improve tree growth and intensive wood-production (Parish et al., 2008; FAO, 2014). In the tropics, forested peatlands are often subject to selective logging or clear-cutting (FAO, 2014), and this is exacerbated by the digging of canals to open up access to the forest and to transport logs. However, the removal of trees and their roots allows water to flow more rapidly from the peatland, as well as exposing the peat surface to the drying heat of the sun. Peat extraction and usage Though the mining of peat for fuel and other purposes affects only a small proportion of the world’s peatlands, its regional impacts are significant (Joosten & Clarke, 2002; Liikanen et al., 2006; Parish et al., 2008). Peat has been a source of energy for over 2,000 years (Parish et al., 2008). It was used on a large scale by households in temperate and boreal regions until the introduction of coal at the end of the 19th Century, and was later taken up by industries to generate electricity and heat (FAO, 2014). Another major use of peat is as a raw material for producing growing media for professional horticulture and for home gardening. Smaller volumes are used for


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