Peatlands and the Boreal Forest -- Functional Characteristics and Indicators of Boreal Peatlands -- The Postglacial Development of Boreal and Subarctic Peatlands -- The Role of Sphagnum in Peatland Development and Persistence -- Peatland Fauna -- The Role of Fungi in Boreal Peatlands -- Decomposition in Boreal Peatlands -- Primary Production in Boreal Peatlands -- Carbon in Boreal Peatlands -- The Nitrogen Cycle in Boreal Peatlands -- Phosphorous in Boreal Peatlands -- Sulfur Cycling in Boreal Peatlands: from Acid Rain to Global Climate Change -- The Hydrology of Peatlands -- Modeling Ecosystem Processes and Peat Accumulation in Boreal Peatlands -- Forestry and Boreal Peatlands -- Disturbance in Boreal Peatlands -- Restoration of Degraded Boreal Peatlands -- Boreal Peatland Ecosystems: Our Carbon Heritage. Boreal peatland ecosystems - bogs and fens - cover only about 3% of the earth's land surface, but their overall ecological and societal importance is proportionately much greater than their area might suggest. Most of these ecosystems are located in the northern hemisphere in areas that were c- pletely covered with ice 10,000-25,000 years ago.In the relatively short period of time since deglaciation, peatlands have become widely established in northern boreal regions.Peatlands are characterized,of course,by accumu- tions of incompletely decomposed organic matter,or peat,that is often deep. Globally,peatlands contain about 30% of the world's terrestrial soil carbon, such that their carbon storage is much greater than their land surface area would suggest. The fate of this carbon, and indeed of boreal peatland ecosystems,in the face of ongoing climate change remains uncertain. Peatlands also are the basis for a variety of human activities,including harvest for the horticultural industry, harvest for fuel, and forestry, the last especially in Scandinavian countries.Peatlands provide habitat for a unique suite of animal species. Several peatland plant species produce fruits that are consumed, directly or indirectly by humans (cranberries and cloudberries being prime examples).Many of the world's peatlands receive atmospherically deposited pollutants, including nitrogen, sulfur, and heavy metals, whose local and regional deposition patterns have changed in the past and will continue to change in the coming decades.