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Peat forms in wetland conditions, where flooding obstructs the flow of oxygen from the atmosphere, slowing the rate of decomposition.although less-common wetlands including fens, pocosins, and peat swamp forests also deposit peat.It is composed mainly of wetland vegetation: principally bog plants including mosses, sedges, and shrubs. This slowly creates wetter conditions that allow the area of wetland to expand.Peatland features can include ponds, ridges, and raised bogs.This allows humans to reconstruct past environments and study changes in human land use.Peat is harvested as an important source of fuel in certain parts of the world.
In Europe, peatlands extend to about 515,000 km About 60% of the world's wetlands are made of peat.
naturally released from the peat, maintaining an equilibrium.
In natural peatlands, the "annual rate of biomass production is greater than the rate of decomposition", but it takes "thousands of years for peatlands to develop the deposits of 1.5 to 2.3 m [4.9 to 7.5 ft], which is the average depth of the boreal [northern] peatlands".
In many countries, including Ireland and Scotland, peat has traditionally been used for cooking and domestic heating, and peat is stacked to dry in rural areas.
It remains harvested on an industrial scale for this purpose in countries such as Ireland and Finland.
Sphagnum moss, also called peat moss, is one of the most common components in peat, although many other plants can contribute.