CSPMA Champions Restoration on World Wetlands Day

OTTAWA, February 2, 2022 –   World Wetlands Day (WWD) is observed on February 2 every year to raise awareness of the important role wetlands play in global physical well-being and the ecosystems they serve. WWD provides an opportunity for the Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association (CSPMA) to highlight the industry’s globally championed restoration techniques and the commitment to restoring peatlands under the National Peatland Restoration Initiative (NPRI), a national industry wide commitment.

“The goal of peatland restoration after horticultural peat harvesting is to re-establish self-regulatory mechanisms that will lead back to a naturally functioning ecosystem, including its ability to accumulate peat,” said CSPMA President, Asha Hingorani. “Restoration is a core value of Canada’s peat producers, which is why in 2016 CSPMA members adopted the NPRI,” added Hingorani.

The industry’s NPRI covers all areas where peat companies have been or are present in Canada since the creation of the industry in the early 1920’s. The primary goals of the NPRI were to reduce by 30 per cent the historical non-restored areas in the first five years of its inception, with a target of 100 per cent reduction within 15 years. The NPRI also includes the promotion of ecological restoration by the Moss Layer Transfer Technique (MLTT) in at least 60 per cent of these areas. “Within the first 4 years of the NPRI (2016-2020), members have reduced the historical non-restored areas by 28 per cent,” said Hingorani.

Canada is a global leader in peatland restoration, including the internationally championed MLTT, which was developed and refined over more than 30 years of research and collaboration with the Peatland Ecology Research Group (PERG), an academic forum led by Canada’s advanced university researchers. This technique and Canada’s leadership in this field has been applauded in many global forums including recently at COP26 in Glasgow.

“The role of peat or carbon-accumulating peatlands, as an important nature-based solution to mitigate climate change, is being slowly discovered globally. Prompt active ecological restoration post-extraction can jump-start the recovery to net CO2 sequestration. In Canada, 30 years of research in partnership academia-industry has led to the development of an ecological approach to peatland restoration. So, it is not how or if we can restore Sphagnum bogs, it is a matter of planning to do it with all the restoration tools, stakeholders, and guidelines available,” said Dr. Line Rochefort, National correspondent for Canada for the Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP) of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.

A great deal of knowledge has been developed around bog restoration, and more research is needed to adapt the restoration methods to the variability of conditions found. New research programs are being implemented, such as the program announced in the summer of 2021 with Brandon University (BU) of Manitoba, supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the CSPMA, to investigate fen restoration and hydrology, which are common in the Prairies and western provinces.

About the CSPMA

The CSPMA is the Canadian national association of horticultural peat moss producers. The association is devoted to promoting responsible management of Canadian peatlands. CSPMA provides support to and advocacy for its members and leadership in environmental and social stewardship, as well as economic well-being and food security related to Canadian peatland resources use.

For more information

Asha Hingorani,
CSPMA President

Canadian Harvest of Peat Moss: 2021 as of August 31

EDMONTON, Alberta, Canada (October 27, 2021)

The Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association (CSPMA), whose members represent more than 80 per cent of the North American peat production, has provided the annual release of the level of harvest for the 2021 season.

A survey of members was conducted on the status of their 2021 Actual Harvest as a percentage of their 2021 Expected Harvest on August 31. The harvest overall varied regionally, differentiating between Eastern and Western Canadian harvest areas. Eastern harvest areas were below the industry expectations, while in the West the harvest exceeded or fully achieved industry expectations.


In Western Canada (MB, SK & AB), all regions met or exceeded targeted volumes (Manitoba, 102%; Saskatchewan, 109%; Alberta, 108%). Spring was relatively early and reasonably dry in all three provinces enabling a good start. A significant, and in some cases record breaking heat and drought period across Western Canada, extended through much of the summer and into early fall 2021. These favorable conditions supported the positive results.

In Manitoba, weather conditions (including provincially mandated fire watches) limited harvest and plant operations, constraining capacity. Industry and Government of Manitoba officials are now working on a protocol regime to deal with potential future extreme conditions.

In New Brunswick, both North and South regions were below expected harvest volumes (New Brunswick North, 80%; New Brunswick South, 76%). Varied weather patterns combined with the late start and the remnants of Hurricane Ida, constrained harvest throughout the Maritimes. The harvest on Québec’s South Shore (97%) and North Shore (80%) were below expectations. Several summer storms, particularly on the north shore, did not permit either region in achieving their targeted volumes. Similar weather patterns affected the Ontario (87%) harvest.

South of the boarder, Minnesota, U.S., (79%) experienced a lower-than-expected harvest because of weather patterns.

As in the past, CSPMA members are committed to working cooperatively with their commercial business partners. CSPMA members continue to harvest peat moss in a responsibly managed way that delivers social and economic benefits to many communities across North America. In addition, CSPMA members are engaged in increasing harvesting capacity through investments in plant infrastructure, harvesting equipment, bog openings, and personnel training.


2021 Actual Harvest: The volume of CFT of harvest that corporately was achieved as of August 31, plus, what can reasonably be expected to be harvested for the last few weeks of the season considering « normal » harvesting conditions.

2021 Expected Harvest: The volume of CFT that equates to a) market needs, plus, b) anticipated buffer as at the end of the 2021 season, minus, c) inventory on hand at the start of the 2021 season (what was left of the 2020 buffer).

For more information:
Asha Hingorani, President, CSPMA


The Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association (CSPMA) is pleased to announce the hiring of a new president, Ms. Asha Hingorani. Asha is taking over from Mr. Paul Short, who will be progressively retiring after leading the association for almost 14 years.

In her former career, Asha held the position of Director of Government and Public Affairs with Wine Growers Canada. As a former journalist, she also teaches Scientific Communication in Regulatory Affairs at Algonquin College in Ottawa. She brings a

background in communications, policy development and governmental relations at the political and bureaucratic level. Her international experience and association management skills are additional strengths that will help advance and guide the needs of the Canadian horticultural peat industry.

For a transitional period extending until March 2022, Paul will act as an Advisor and Former President for the CSPMA. He will also be sharing his knowledge of the industry, specifically relating to international issues and the government relations linked to the horticultural peat industry with the new president.

As a truly pan-Canadian association, the CSPMA team will now be present in four locations: Asha Hingorani (President) in Ottawa (ON), Doris Reeve (Executive Assistant) in Edmonton (AB), Stéphanie Boudreau (Science Coordinator) in Rivière-du-Loup (QC) and Marie-Claire LeBlanc (Project and Communication Manager) in Quebec (QC).


Summer, the season most home gardeners have been longing for, is almost here. Some have been watching their seedlings grow for weeks already, while others are dreaming about the perfect flower arrangements or the vegetable harvests to come. From relaxation, stress reduction to the development of self-confidence, gardening is known to be beneficial to both our mental and physical well-being. But this year, there seems to be more to it: everybody seems to be gardening

More Time, Greener Yards

According to a recent study from Dalhousie University [1], 17% of Canadian home gardeners started cultivating food at home for the first time in the past year. With less time spent commuting or working at the office as well as travel restrictions resulting from the pandemic, activities around the house grew in popularity. The availability of urban and home gardening products made it attractive for people and families in search of a new hobby. Some even compared this renewed enthusiasm for gardening to the “Victory Gardens”, the home gardens that were popular during World War I and II. Growing food from home is also seen as a solution to higher produce prices [2] or simply a way to access fresh herbs or juicy tomatoes directly

from our own backyards. In the United States, 2020 has seen unprecedented revenue growth in garden retail, with sales growth reaching 23 to 37% depending on the region [3].

Peat-Based Growing Media

Experts agree that in home and urban gardening, as much as in larger-scale horticulture, a key element for growing plants is the quality of the soil. Whether growing directly in the soil, in pots or hanging baskets, choosing a sphagnum moss peat-based growing media is an excellent way to ensure a good start for flowers, berries and vegetables.

Growing Media designate the material in which plants are grown. They can be made of different proportions of ingredients, including peat. They can also be referred to as “substrates” or “potting mix”.

Peat is known for its water- holding capacity: in its natural conditions, sphagnum peat moss can retain 20 times its weight in water. For home gardeners, it means peat- based growing media allows to space out watering – and might even save plants from an unexpectedly sunny weekend. Similarly, peat also

retains nutrients and makes them available for the plant’s root system. Peat’s natural porosity (inherited from the structure of the sphagnum moss it originates from) also improves soil drainage and allows air to reach the roots.

Another benefit of using peat-based growing media is that it does not contain pests, weeds or pollutants that could harm your production. It is also lightweight, making it a perfect choice for hanging baskets or roof top gardens. When starting a raised-bed or container garden from scratch, peat is an excellent growing material that is easily available, high-quality and versatile: the ideal combination for all levels of home gardeners. Amending an in-ground garden with peat can also aerate heavy soils (like clay), improve the structure of light soils (like sand) and help balance aeration through the addition of organic matter.

A Responsible Choice for Green Thumbs

The Canadian Peat Moss Industry consists of companies that harvest the raw peat moss material, as well as companies producing the growing media mixes. For almost 30 years, the Canadian Horticultural Peat Producers Associations (CSPMA, APTHQ and APTNB) which represents most of the country’s Horticultural Peat companies, have been supporting science to develop Best Management Practices ensuring that the peatlands and the peat resource are managed responsibly. In addition, most peat-based growing media found at garden centers are certified under the Veriflora® Certification for Responsible Horticultural Peat Moss Production [5], guaranteeing “the application of good management practices in all aspects of sustainable development” [6]. From extensive backyard gardens to tiny urban balconies, Canadian peat- based growing media is an excellent choice for all home gardening projects!

After a while, peat-based growing media used in pots (both for houseplants and outdoor gardening) must be replaced. The old potting mix is however still a useful material around the garden [7]. It can be incorporated directly to flower beds or garden soil or thrown in the compost bin, where it is will support microorganisms and bacterial life, enhance the texture and enrich the composition of the soil by providing more organic matter. Talk about a useful second life!


The year 2020 has been an eye-opening one in many ways. Everywhere, people witnessed the value of social relationships and solidarity. Work habits have been turned upside down, and priorities have been redefined. Not surprisingly the corporate world also went through major changes. Some companies had to reinvent themselves and find new ways to respond to the emerging pandemic reality. Others appeared, more than ever, of vital importance for the well-being of our communities. A sector where this became particularly evident is that of food security.

Securing the food supply chain

The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated the importance of securing the food supply chain as, despite the overall pause the entire world has been forced into, the world population still needs to be fed. As exposed by the World Bank, the year 2020 saw an important surge in food insecurity across the planet due to the rise in food prices, reduced incomes, and lower exportations [1].  At the same time, the demand for fruits and vegetables increased, not only because people started cooking more, but also in an attempt to develop healthier eating habits, in response to the global health crisis. In Canada, the Ontario Produce Marketing Association (OPMA) noted an 11% increase in vegetable sales in 2020 [2].

Growing Media as a response to Food Insecurity

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, food security means “that all people, at all times, have physical, social, and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their food preferences and dietary needs for an active and healthy life” [3]. In recent years, soilless cultures relying on growing media (such as greenhouse productions) has emerged as a solution to this need for safe, consistent, and productive food production systems. It provides economical and practical solutions to some of the challenges growers across the world were already facing before the pandemic, including the lack of labour, limited resources, and extreme weather conditions [4]. In Canada, from all the fresh produce (fruits, greenhouse vegetables, mushrooms, field vegetables, potatoes), greenhouse vegetables were the crop with the highest value, accounting for 49% of all fresh produce exports in 2019 [5], tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers figuring at the top of that list.

Peat in Food Production chain

In this context, the contribution of the Horticultural Peat Moss industry to food security as a reliable provider of quality growing media for soilless cultivation has proven essential. In North America, and especially in the United States where 87% of the Canadian Peat Moss production is exported [6], growing media are composed of on average 52% Peat Moss [7]. Within the food production chain, peat is used in the preparation of seedlings of multiple greenhouse and field-cultivated crops, the production of vegetables, fruits, and herbs, as well as to grow mushrooms. For growers, choosing peat-based growing media provides the right balance between water retention and drainage, to create the ideal conditions for seedlings and plants to develop. It is also readily available and is a pest, weed and pathogen-free growing media constituent. Those advantages are even more crucial as crops must be productive and high in quality to provide healthy food for human consumption.

An Essential Service

From the very beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, the Canadian Horticulture Peat Moss industry has and continues to be considered by government agencies, an essential business in support of the supply chain requirements for the essential service of food security.  Pandemic or not, Canadian-produced growing media ensures the availability of fresh and safe food at local, national, and international scales.


The Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association (CSPMA) and the Quebec Peat Moss Producers Association (APTHQ) are proud to announce the addition of Marie-Claire LeBlanc to their team as Project and Communication Manager.

Marie-Claire LeBlanc (geographer, M.ATDR) is no stranger to our industry. She worked as a research professional at the Peatland Ecology Research Group (PERG) for 10 years, where she coordinated research teams and projects across the country. Among other things, she participated in the long-term monitoring of restored bogs, in fen restoration projects as well as in adapting the restoration methods for the western provinces of Canada.

Through the years, she was involved in the planning and implementation of several restoration projects across the country, developed and led numerous technological transfer training workshops and peatland excursions and co-authored the third edition of the Peatland Restoration Guide. She also participated in numerous industry meetings, international conferences and working groups to promote restoration methods and the latest scientific advances about peatlands and their responsible management.

Within the CSPMA and APTHQ, Marie-Claire LeBlanc will oversee the communication aspects including the development of efficient tools to ensure the proper diffusion of information within and beyond the industry. She will also put in place a platform for the members to access and share information and data. One of her first major projects will be to update industry statistics, an initiative for which all our members will be directly consulted. Updating Industry Social Responsibility Reports, providing support and advice to science projects, promoting the peat industry’s best practices, coordinating restoration demonstration sites committees are also among responsibilities she will take on as Project and Communication Manager. Of course, her expertise in peatland restoration will be used to support members wanting to develop restoration plans and after-use strategies. Marie-Claire LeBlanc will also be in charge of strategic monitoring and help maintain our industry’s position as an international leader in responsible peatland management by ensuring our compliance with provincial, national and international standards.

Just like Stephanie Boudreau, Science Coordinator for the CSPMA and Executive Director of the APTHQ, Marie-Claire LeBlanc will work with both associations. We are certain she will be a valuable addition to our team, and that her expertise in peatland management best practices will bring new perspectives to our industry.


The Canadian horticultural peat industry, when acquiring rights to access peatland resources on private and crown land, has always faced requirements to address legislation, regulations, and policies in place within the provinces. Over the last decade, these processes have increased in complexity as the resource decision makers improve their management knowledge and awareness for peatlands. Our industry, as a key stakeholder, has continued to work with the government agencies to improve the processes surrounding the acquisition of land use rights. A foundation of the engagement has been the long-standing support of scientific research on peatlands and the use of the latest results to responsibly manage the resource.

Nowadays, most efforts to develop new peat harvesting sites take place on crown land. To acquire new harvest rights, the industry must receive the appropriate permits, leases, and licenses from the provincial and local authorities. In general terms, the process includes exploration, environmental impacts assessments, Indigenous communities consultations, leasing application, development approval from local development authorities and finally the authorization by provincial authorities.

One of the main aspects of the permitting process concerns environmental impacts. The companies must undertake comprehensive studies regarding the impacts of their activities on water, air, soil, fauna and flora. Depending on the province, different government departments are engaged in the review and evaluation of the various applications. In some cases, federal departments such as Fisheries and Oceans Canada may also be involved. An essential part of the application is the creation of development and restoration plans that address the full timeframe for harvesting and post-harvest use.

The requirements for information within the process have been adjusted in response to emerging demands on governance, particularly for social accountability and acceptance. Our members must organize consultation activities with the communities and the different stakeholders of the project which generally include surrounding communities and land users such as foresters, hunters, outdoor enthusiasts, as well as other industries. Of particular importance is the increasing role of indigenous consultation. It should be noted that social acceptability is not just a step: it is an obligation that our industry embraces throughout the whole permitting, development and harvesting process. It requires our members and industry to corporately commit to and adopt best practices that support commitments to society.

The evaluation criteria for all those aspects are not the same across the country as rules and regulations differ and specific challenges must also be acknowledged. Besides the environmental and social aspects, our members are also asked to demonstrate the economic benefits of their projects for the provinces in terms of investment and employment.

The application approval is an iterative process and only after all the agencies and authorities have reviewed and approved all documents will a lease disposition be issued. This whole process is exhaustive and requires investing considerable amounts of time and financial resources. Corporate planning must factor in up to two years and possibly longer before disposition and permitting approval. The Canadian horticultural peat industry is however committed to complying with the processes, rules and regulations in place, and to contribute to their improvement, based on good corporate citizenship and the latest scientific developments.

Canadian harvest of Peat Moss: 2020 as of August 31

ST. ALBERT, Alberta, Canada (October 8, 2020)

The Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association (CSPMA), whose members represent 95 percent of the North American peat production, has an announcement regarding the level of harvest for the 2020 season.

A survey of members was conducted on the status of their 2020 Actual Harvest as a percentage of their 2020 Expected Harvest on August 31.

The harvest overall varied across the country. Generally eastern harvest areas exceeded or nearly met expectations while in the west the harvests were below expectations.

A regional breakdown follows:

In New Brunswick, both North and South regions were above expected harvest volumes. (New Brunswick North, 112%, New Brunswick South,120%). The favorable weather during summer, combined with a reasonably early spring supported the harvest. The harvest on Québec’s South Shore (94%) and North Shore (94%) were below expectations. Similar climatic conditions throughout the summer including several summer storms and periods of extended high temperatures did not permit either region in achieving their targeted volumes.

In western Canada (MB, SK & AB), no region achieved targeted volumes. (Manitoba, 98%; Saskatchewan, 90%; Alberta, 74%). Spring was relatively dry in Alberta and Saskatchewan enabling a reasonable start to the harvest. However, the summer’s consistent cool and wet weather accounted for the decrease. Manitoba achieved close to its targeted volume, but periods of high intensity storms created harvest setbacks during the summer. Minnesota (55%) experienced the lowest expected harvest as a consequence of weather patterns that brought rain and cool temperatures during much of the harvest season.

As in the past, the Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association (CSPMA) members are committed to working cooperatively with their commercial business partners.


« 2020 Actual Harvest »: The volume of CFT of harvest that corporately was achieved as of August 31, plus, what can reasonably be expected to be harvested for the last few weeks of the season considering « normal » harvesting conditions.

« 2020 Expected Harvest »: The volume of CFT that equates to a) market needs, plus, b) anticipated buffer as at the end of the 2020 season, minus, c) inventory on hand at the start of the 2020 season (what was left of the 2019 buffer).



The Canadian horticultural peat industry is proud to announce the release of three new booklets in the Peatland Restoration Guide series. These new documents are added to a first booklet published in 2019. The whole package forms an updated version of the guide published in 2003, and the content is the result of a long series of scientific research and continuous improvement of peatland restoration techniques.

The Peatland Restoration Guide is the inescapable tool for all the peat producers and other wetland practitioners wishing to successfully apply the Moss Layer Transfer Technique (MLTT) for the restoration of Sphagnum-dominated peatlands. “In addition to incorporating the progress made in peatland restoration since 2003, the approach described in the new booklets is now based on the results of numerous restoration projects carried out by the peat industry across Canada” mentions François Quinty, author.

“A preliminary version of the new guide was tested in October 2019 with peat producers during a peatland restoration workshop, which helped improve the content. The industry scientific committee was also consulted in order to take into account their expertise in the application of the restoration method” adds Stephanie Boudreau, Scientific Coordinator of the CSPMA.

New Information

The booklets cover the following subjects:

Planning Restoration Projects: This booklet begins with a brief review of the Moss Layer Transfer Technique and then details the steps involved in planning restoration projects.

Site Preparation and Rewetting: This booklet describes how to prepare the site, manage water flow and retention by building dikes, make sure the restored sector is connected to adjacent land and rewet the site through ditch blocking.

Plant Material Collecting and Management of Donor Sites: This booklet released in October 2019 focuses on the plant collecting phase as well as the selection and management of donor sites. The numerous restoration projects carried out since 2003 have demonstrated how important this step is to the success of restoration work.

Spreading Plant Material, Mulch and Fertilizer: This booklet focuses on the stages in which plant material, mulch and fertilizer are spread.

Marie-Claire LeBlanc, author, explains: “the method provides both operationally realistic and scientifically valid restoration options for a variety of sites and conditions. In addition, the ideal residual conditions for restoration are presented, which should serve as indicators for responsible peatland use and management.”

Through the years, research has shown that undisturbed peatlands act as long-term net sinks for atmospheric carbon, but peat harvesting converts these ecosystems into net sources of greenhouse gases. Ecosystem-scale peatland restoration can return the carbon sink function within a decade to 15 years. Adding to this the successful return of biodiversity and ecological services provided by peatlands, the industry and the scientific community agree that restoration is a must-do practice.

“After over 25 years of large-scale application of the method of restoring Sphagnum-dominated peatlands under all kinds of climatic conditions, we now know the approach is robust. Thereby there is no longer any technological reason not to restore a degraded peat bog that has compatible site conditions (uncontaminated site with acidic pH)” concludes Dr. Line Rochefort, author.

The Peatland Restoration Guide is published jointly by the Peatland Ecology Research Group (PERG), the Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association (CSPMA) and the Québec Peat Moss Producers Association (APTHQ). It was carried out with the financial participation of Canada Economic Development for Québec Regions (DEC) and the Ministry of Economy and Innovation (MEI) through a structuring project of the ACCORD Peat and Substrates Cluster.

About the authors

François Quinty, M.A. Geography

Following his Master’s degree in geography completed in 1988, François Quinty has specialized in peatlands; he joined the Peatland Ecology Research Group (PERG) in 1992 to work on the development of methods to restore peatlands in collaboration with the Canadian peat industry. He was involved in many projects in Canada and the USA aimed at restoring post-extracted peatlands or adapting restoration methods to specific conditions. He has also worked on the vegetalization and stabilization of disturbed sites such as sand and gravel pits, roadsides and mine tailings, as well as wetlands restoration and creation for compensation purposes mostly in the boreal zone of Québec. Mr. Quinty led and participated in surveys and baseline studies on vegetation, wetlands and wildlife. He directed environmental impact assessments for peatland development projects in Québec, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. He also contributed to environmental impact assessments for power line projects. He joined WSP Canada Inc. in 2005.

Marie-Claire LeBlanc, M.ATDR

Marie-Claire LeBlanc is a geographer and graduated in Land Management (M.ATDR) in 2008. She has worked for 10 years as a research professional with the Peatland Ecology Research Group (PERG), where she coordinated research teams and activities across Canada. Mrs. LeBlanc has also participated in the design and supervision of numerous peatland restoration projects across Canada. Initially in charge of developing research projects about fen ecology, she then contributed to adapting restoration methods developed in Eastern Canada to the Prairie and Western provinces. She has also worked on the restoration of linear disturbances related to hydropower lines and the oil and gas industry in Québec and Alberta. Finally, Mrs. LeBlanc has developed and led numerous training courses, conferences and peatland excursions to promote restoration methods and the latest scientific advances on the subject.

Dr. Line Rochefort, Ph.D. (Botany)

Dr. Line Rochefort is a pioneer in research related to peatland restoration. She is a professor in the Department of Plant Sciences and founder of the Peatland Ecology Research Group (PERG) at Université Laval in Québec, Canada. PERG brings together researchers from several universities, Canadian industrial peat partners, and federal and provincial government agencies to advance understanding of peatland ecosystems and inform decisions regarding their use and conservation. Dr. Rochefort has instigated a whole new stream of research in the peat industry: the development of techniques for the restoration of peatlands after peat extraction. The technique for bog restoration is now used not only in North America but also in South America (Chile) and Europe (particularly in the Baltic countries, Denmark and Belgium). From 2003 to 2018, Dr. Rochefort has held the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s (NSERC) Industrial Research Chair for Peatland Management. Since 2018, she leads a new program under a NSERC Collaborative Research and Development (CRD) grant, allowing for continued collaboration between the researchers and the Canadian peat industry. In 2004 she received the prestigious Synergy Award for Innovation from the NSERC, and in 2011, she was honoured with the International Peatland Society’s (IPS) Award of Excellence. Dr. Rochefort is the National Correspondent for Canada for the Ramsar Convention’s Scientific and Technical Review Panel (STRP) since April 2019.

(Hard copies available on request)

Science in the Service of Peatland Management

The Canadian horticultural peat moss industry has for many years partnered with the nation’s most respected peatland researchers. Our objectives are to get a better understanding of the peat resource, the peatland ecosystem and its functions, to understand how our activities might influence these functions and to find innovative solutions to mitigate them.

The industry has been investigating several linked but different research programs over the years. Although slowed down by the pandemic impacts, two of these programs have been underway this summer.

The first program is undertaken by the Peatland Ecology Research Group (PERG) headed by Dr. Line Rochefort from Université Laval (Québec, Quebec). Its main goal is the generation of new information related to peatland management, mostly in terms of peatland restoration. The researchers are investigating four different themes: managing for biodiversity, managing for water, managing for carbon sequestration and managing for Sphagnum biomass. From the industry perspective, the entire program will end up with the development of criteria to evaluate the success of best restoration practices. It will also provide new knowledge for improving the restoration methods, evaluate the effect of landscape-scale peat extraction and restoration on the quality of runoff water, and create plant-based indicators to evaluate the carbon sequestration capacity of peatlands while testing different management options for enhancing this capacity. Last, but not least, the program also aims to improve and scale up cultivation of Sphagnum mosses for the renewable production of non-decomposed Sphagnum fibre biomass.

One of the specific projects going on this summer aims in developing a method for short-term suppression of peat decomposition through strengthening the ‘enzymic latch’ mechanism. It covers both dimensions of carbon sequestration and Sphagnum biomass, and involves researchers from various universities, including a collaboration with Bangor University (UK).

The second program is led by Dr. Nigel Roulet from McGill University (Montréal, Quebec). We already know that natural and restored peatlands (> 12-15 years) act as carbon sink while peatlands under extraction are greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters. However, the actual rate of these GHG emissions during extraction and the use of peat in the horticultural context is not known with accuracy. The project aims to collect indisputable data regarding how peat being extracted and how peat being used (in pots for example) is really behaving in terms of GHG emissions. The data will allow updating the emission factors used by the industry for their accounting process and by the Canadian government for their annual National GHG inventory reports.

Those are just a few benefits that scientific research continues to bring to our industry. Having a better knowledge regarding our resource helps the whole industry to improve its management practices. Scientific research enables our association to better inform Provincial and Federal government agencies with accurate and reliable data related to the responsible peatland management. This knowledge has in the past and will continue to serve into the future as a basis in developing new laws and regulations regarding peatland management. It is also a foundation for continuous improvement of our practices.

For all those reasons, the Canadian peat industry and its partners will keep investigating through peer-reviewed research and in-depth science-based knowledge.

September 3, 2020