Peatlands store a great proportion of the global soil carbon pool and can loose carbon via the atmosphere due to degradation. In Germany, most of the greenhouse gas emissions from organic soils are attributed to sites managed as grassland. Here we investigated a land-use gradient from near-natural wetland (NW) to an extensively managed (GE) to an intensively managed grassland site (GI), all formed in the same bog complex in northern Germany. Vertical depth profiles of δ13C, δ15N, ash content, C/N ratio, bulk density, as well as radiocarbon ages were studied to identify peat degradation and to calculate carbon loss. At all sites, including the near-natural site, δ13C depth profiles indicate aerobic decomposition in the upper horizons. Depth profiles of δ15Ndiffered significantly between sites with increasing δ15N values in the top layers with increasing intensity of use, indicating that the peat is more decomposed. At both grassland sites, the ash content peaked within the first centimeter. In the near-natural site, ash contents were highest in 10–60 cm depth. This indicates that not only the managed grasslands, but also the near-natural site, is influenced by anthropogenic activities, most likely due to the drainage of the surrounding area. However, we found very young peat material in the first centimeter of the NW, indicating recent peat growth. The NW site accumulates carbon today even though it is and probably was influenced by anthropogenic activities in the past indicated by δ13C and ash content depth profiles. Based on the enrichment of ash content and changes in bulk density, we calculated carbon loss from these sites in retrograde. As expected land use intensification leads to a higher carbon loss which is supported by the higher peat ages at the intensive managed grassland site. All investigated biogeochemical parameters together indicate degradation of peat due to (i) conversion to grassland, (ii) historical drainage as well as recent development and (iii) land use intensification.