Restoration objective

The main objective of peatland restoration 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 peatlands, also known as the moss-layer transfer technique, was developed through an extensive research program. It is based mainly on two actions:

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

2. Rewetting the peatland.

Machines designed for agricultural or peat extraction purposes can also 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 measured by studying the growth of vegetation communities and other factors that affect the ecosystem, such as hydrology and carbon cycling.

The most recent statistics on restored areas can be found here.

Peatland Restoration Guide

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

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:

Please note that hard copies are available on request.

peatland restoration Steps

Collecting plant fragments from a donor site

Surface vegetation on a donor site is chopped by a rotovator to a maximum depth of 10 cm. Plant fragments are then collected and transported to the restoration site.

The vegetation of donor sites quickly regenerates because the lower parts of plants and fragments remain in the ground. Donor sites can be used more than once on a sustainable basis.

Preparing the site to be restored

A screw leveler is used to evenly flatten the peat fields, scrape the peat surface and build berms to ensure a good redistribution of water.

Spreading plants

A manure spreader is used to spread sphagnum moss and other plant fragments on the restoration site. A ratio of introduction of 1 to 10 is followed, which means that 1m2 of plant material coming from the donor site is distributed over 10 m2 of surface to restore.

Sphagnum mosses are the key species involved in bog restoration. They allow the re-establishment of a moss carpet that is able to initiate self-regulatory mechanisms and eventually restore the peat accumulation function.

Adding a straw mulch

A straw mulch is used to cover and protect the fragile plant fragments. It improves the micro-climate conditions on the ground and prevents the plant material from drying out.


A very light addition of phosphorous may be added to favour colonization by plants that nurse sphagnum mosses.

Blocking drainage ditches

Blocking drainage ditches allows the peatland to fully rewet which encourages the growth of sphagnum mosses and other peatland plants.

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 fen 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 trees plantation, berries cultivation and marshes or pools creation.