And the scientistswarn in Scientific Reports journal that the mining or quarrying of peat for horticulture, agriculture and drainage, along with climate change, has made a growing number of the worlds peat bogs increasingly vulnerable to fire.
Such fires are dangerous. Smoke from one is estimated to have killed 3,000 people in 2010 in Moscow, whilepeat fires in southeast Asia in 2015 released at least 1 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, to accelerate global warming still further.
The key is to keep peat wet and get that moss growing on the surface again
Black spruce in Canada has colonised peatlands, and the growth of timber above has dried what would normally have been a shield of moist moss, and has lifted water from the peat-rich soil to create fire hazard both above and below ground.
The answer is to manage the forests, and channel water back into the peat bogs. Waddington, one of the authors of the reports, explains: The key is to keep peat wet and get that moss growing on the surface again.
Our research shows very conclusively that if you can re-wet the system and get the key peat mosses growing on the surface, you can essentially put a cap on the system and limit burning, or resist fire completely.