Peat is widely recognised as providing key ecosystem services that are important for human well being. It underpins habitats and landscapes that are important for biodiversity, moderation of groundwater flow and quality, climate regulation, provision of food, cultural heritage and recreation (Bonn et al., 2010).

In Britain, peat has been badly affected by drainage, burning, overgrazing and industrial pollution. As a result, habitat loss, Carbon dioxide and methane release as well as detrimental effects on groundwater have been observed. Scientists are trying to quantify the threats posed by loss of peat, and to establish methods to monitor, manage and alleviate the problems.

Over many years, BGS has built a wide portfolio of peat-based research. At the simplest level we have mapped areas where peat occurs and include these in our BGS Geology suite of datasets.

We have also started creating 3D models for peat deposits to quantify volumes of stored carbon, assess groundwater interactions and establish the distribution of buried peat deposits in our fluvial environments.

Selected BGS research

Contamination of peatContamination of peat

A summary of selected BGS research on the contamination of peat.

NERC Soil PortalUK Soil Observatory

The NERC Soil Portal provides a gateway to discover, view and download large-scale soils property datasets from across NERC research centres.

Peat thicknessPeat data store

A comprehensive database of peat-related information available in BGS; includes mapped peat polygons, information on peat thickness, derived from borehole logs, and 3D geological models in known peat areas.

Peat potential modelPeat potential model

We are working to complete our field mapping work on peat using remote sensing imagery to detect peat at surface. Here is a summary of some of the work in progress.

PeatPublications and papers

A list of BGS publications on peat in the NERC Open Research Archive (NORA).


For further information please contact Marieta Garcia-Bajo