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Peatland restoration

Peatland restoration goal

The goal of restoration of peatlands after peat harvesting is to re-establish self-regulatory mechanisms that will lead back to a naturally functioning peat accumulating ecosystem, including its ability to accumulate peat.

The restoration approach for bogs, called the moss-layer transfer technique, was developed through an extensive research program. It is based on two main actions:

  1. Active reintroduction of peatland plant species, along with various techniques to improve conditions for plant establishment;
  2. Rewetting the peatland.

Machines widely used for agricultural or peat extraction purposes can be used to collect and spread plants and mulches, allowing the restoration technique to be applied on large peat surfaces.

Peatland restoration is a multi-year process. Its success is gauged by studying the growth of vegetation communities and other factors that affect the ecosystem, such as hydrology and carbon cycling.

Peatland Restoration Guide

A first restoration guide was published in 1997 by the PERG.
A second, much larger edition was published in 2003. This second edition remains an indispensable resource to this day.

In 2019 and 2020, the entire chapter dealing with the restoration method (Chapter 3) has been revised and republished in independent booklets. They are grouped into four themes: :

(Hard copies available on request)

Steps leading to peatland restoration

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Fen restoration

The guides presented above describe the Moss Layer Transfer Technique (MLTT) for the restoration of Sphagnum-dominated peatlands. The PERG is also working to develop other techniques better suited to the restoration of peatlands with residual peat corresponding more to that of a fens than a bog. The main goal is to raise the water table and reintroduce plant species typical of more minerotrophic environments.

Other reclamation options

Depending on the specific context (environmental, social, economic) and regulations, other reclamation options can be implemented, such as tree plantation, berry cultivation and marsh or pools creation.

See the definitions of Restoration, Reclamation, Rehabilitation concepts