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Peaty bogs are just as typical for Drenthe as the 'hunebedden' or dolmens. Several centuries ago, Drenthe was covered by expansive bogs. Early, the locals had already discovered that dried peat was an excellent source of fuel. Starting in the 16th century, this 'brown gold' generated a lot of wealth for Drenthe.
The bogs on the edge of Drenthe formed after the last ice age. The warming, moist soil created a perfect climate for the formation of raised bogs. Raised bogs are formed from the remains of a single plant species, sphagnum' or 'peat moss'. This small plant grows in large pillows. As the moss on the bottom dies, the moss on the top continues to grow by about a millimetre per year. This is how, over thousands of years, thick, stacked layers of peat were created. Sometimes up to ten metres deep.
When the water level sinks, and the peat starts to dry, you get turf. Thanks to its excellent combustibility, turf was in large-scale use between the 16th and 19th century to heat houses and factories. In a span of four centuries, pretty much all of the peat areas in Drenthe were extracted. The peat areas or peat bogs where turf was cut, were also called 'moer'.
In addition to Raised Bogs, there are low-lying bogs. The peat there consists of undecayed plant material and grows in swamp areas. A lack of oxygen and bacteria in the acidic water prevent the plant material from decaying. The dead plants would collect into thick layers. This peaty soil is often courser than in raised bogs as a result. In low-lying bogs you can find seeds, roots, plants, and wood.
A number of small peat bogs have been preserved in Drenthe. In the south-eastern most corner of Drenthe, you can find an area called Bargerveen in nature preserve Veenland. In addition, you can find the peat bog called Föchteloërveen in National Park Drents-Friese Wold.