Peat dataset of the Baltic region

Kārlis Bērziņš and photo: Ansis Starks

Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) - Biennale Architettura 2016

Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) - Biennale Architettura 2016

Peatlands are one of the main feature of the Baltic landscape, covering around 22 000 km2 (twelve percent) of overall territory. Peat bogs are considered an important environmental resource and are responsible for huge biodiversity in the region. Large areas of peatlands fall within the Natura 2000 network in order to protect sensitive habitats. The average depth of the swamps found in the Baltics are two to five meters, but can reach more than twelve meters in depth. One of the main properties is its capacity to store more carbon dioxide than that of the forests.
The history of using peat in the Baltics dates back several hundred years, when peat was used in agriculture and as a fuel. The most extraction of peat was witnessed during Soviet times, by comparison in 1973 Latvia extracted two million tonnes extracted, but by 1990 that amount had fallen to just 300,000 tons, and in recent years extraction has decreased by four to five times. Today most of the peat is consumed by heat plants, briquetting plants and households, the latter being responsible for the most consumption of peat in the Baltics.
Peat is considered a slow renewable resource, which can be used in many different ways, however peatlands in the Baltics are highly regulated and only a small amount of total peat covered territories allow industrial scale extraction, in order to preserve the precious habitat. Around thirty percent of Estonian peatland is considered untouched, but approximately half of it has been affected by drainage during Soviet times and continues emitting greenhouse gases, with similar statistics in Latvia and Lithuania.

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  • Title: Peat dataset of the Baltic region
  • Creator: Kārlis Bērziņš, photo: Ansis Starks