In the industry, research is viewed as THE key to responsible peat resource management. Since 1992, the Canadian peat industry has invested significant resources, both financial and human, in improving the knowledge about peatlands and their restoration through partnerships with the scientific community.

The Peatland Ecology Research Group (PERG)

The PERG is the result of a collaboration between the academic scientific community, the Canadian horticultural peat industry and various federal and provincial government agencies. The multidisciplinary scientific approach combines fundamental and applied research in ecology and peatland management.

The research program undertaken by the PERG over the last 25 years has been influential in making Canada a world leader in the responsible management of peat resource. The results of the research, among other things, have led to the development of techniques for the restoration of peatlands after peat harvesting.

The current research program (2018-2024) is funded by a Collaborative Research and Development (CRD) grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. The PERG investigates questions that arise directly from the industry on matters such as biodiversity, hydrology, greenhouse gases and sphagnum farming.

Key findings concerning peatland restoration:

  • Sphagnum moss coverage can be re-established within three to five years;
  • the growth rate of sphagnum moss on restored sites is comparable to or higher than those of natural peatlands;
  • the ability of a site to capture carbon can return to levels equivalent to natural peatlands after a period of 10 to 15 years following restoration.

You would like to read more on peatland restoration? Do not hesitate to consult the following Web page.

Sphagnum production: a promising line of research

The PERG and the peat industry have been carrying out research on sphagnum farming for many years now. It consists in the renewable production of non-decomposed sphagnum fiber biomass on a cyclic basis. The objectives of sphagnum moss production are multiple:

  • to develop new growing substrates;
  • to produce floral moss; and
  • to supply a source of sphagnum to be used in peatland restoration.

In order to summarize the research that has been done since the first Sphagnum farming sites were established, a guide was published in 2022. Its objectives are to review the state of knowledge, gather the expertise and summarize the concepts needed for the establishment and operation of a Sphagnum farming site.