Research is viewed as the key to responsible peat resource management. Since 1992, the Canadian peat industry has invested significant financial and human resources in improving the knowledge about peatland and their restoration through partnerships with the scientific community.
The Peatland Ecology Research Group (PERG)
PERG is the result of a collaboration between the academic scientific community, the Canadian horticultural peat industry and federal and provincial government agencies. The multidisciplinary scientific approach combines fundamental and applied research in peatland ecology and management.
The research program undertaken by the PERG since 1992 has been influential in making Canada a world leader in the responsible management of peat resources. 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. 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 the restored site is comparable to or higher than that of natural peatlands;
- the ability of restored sites to capture carbon can return to levels equivalent to natural peatlands after a period of 10 to 15 years following restoration.
Sphagnum cultivation: 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.