This paper derives the distribution of peatland in Europe as the extent of peat and peat-topped soils indicated by soil databases. The data sources were the 1:1,000,000 European Soil Database (v1.0) and a data set of organic carbon content (%) for the topsoils of Europe at 1km x 1km resolution that was recently published in map form. The strong influences of vegetation and land use on soil organic carbon (OC) content were taken into account in computing the 1km (OC) data set, as was the influence of temperature. The areas of peat and peat-topped soils estimated from the European Soil Database are generally in close agreement with those obtained using the Map of OC in Topsoils of Europe. The results reveal a strong northern bias in the distribution of organic soils across Europe. Almost one-third of the peatland resource of Europe is in Finland, and more than a quarter is in Sweden. The remainder is in Poland, the UK, Norway, Germany, Ireland, Estonia, Latvia, The Netherlands and France. Small areas of peat and peat-topped soils also occur in Lithuania, Hungary, Denmark and the Czech Republic. For most European countries, the distribution of peat and peat-topped soils is probably more accurately portrayed by the Map of OC in Topsoils of Europe than by the European Soil Map and Database. Such baseline data are important for the conservation of peat and for making much more precise estimates of carbon stocks in topsoil than have been possible hitherto. The results are also relevant to the planning of effective soil protection measures at European level
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