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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.
By volume, there are about 4 trillion cubic metres (5.2 trillion cubic yards) of peat in the world, covering a total of around 2% of the global land area (about 3 million square kilometres or 1.2 million square miles), containing about 8 billion terajoules of energy.
Peat forms when plant material does not fully decay in acidic and anaerobic conditions.
That said, the vast Magellanic Moorland in South America (Southern Patagonia/Tierra del Fuego) is an extensive peat-dominated landscape.
Peat can be found in New Zealand, Kerguelen, the Falkland Islands, and Indonesia (Kalimantan [Sungai Putri, Danau Siawan, Sungai Tolak], Rasau Jaya [West Kalimantan], and Sumatra).
It remains harvested on an industrial scale for this purpose in countries such as Ireland and Finland.
Peatlands occur on all continents, from the tropical to boreal and Arctic zones from sea level to high alpine conditions.
Peatlands are areas of land with naturally formed layers of peat.
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.
Some of the world's largest peatlands include the West Siberian Lowland, the Hudson Bay Lowlands, and the Mackenzie River Valley.