In the lowland areas of the southwest you find many types of peatlands scattered throughout: in natural depressions, following creek lines, as raised bogs, peat mosses and many more subtle expressions in the landscape. Walking through these areas you encounter an array of plant species that are indicative of peats such as majestic old paperbarks.
Peatlands may not sound or look much at first glance but dig a little deeper and you’ll be amazed at how unique they are as natural ecosystems. On the global scale, peatlands cover just 3% of the world’s surface yet hold nearly one-third of the planet’s soil carbon. That is more carbon stored in all other vegetation types combined, including the world’s forests.
Here in southwestern Australia, we are still learning about them: their past and current distribution, conservation and health status. Palaeoecological records show that some of these systems vary from 4000 to at least 6000 years in age. Our peatlands are under immense pressure due to drying climates, altered fire regimes, and feral pig activity. They are extremely vulnerable habitats, once lost, lost forever.