Contrasting restoration methods for peatland impacted by roads: Burial Under Peat Method vs. peatland initiation on mineral substrate

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Kathy Pouliot, Line Rochefort, Pascal Guérin, Alexandre Beauchemin

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A restoration project has been conducted on two sites where access roads to power lines were constructed over a peatland. Mineral roads in peatlands change the nature of the substrate and influences the water table level and the physicochemical characteristics of the water and peat. These changes can impact the composition of the plant communities. We examined whether the Burial Under Peat Method is effective to restore peatland conditions. The method should meet restoration goals by: 1) confining the nutrients potentially released by the mineral material; 2) conserving an elevation similar to the adjacent peatland; and 3) re-establishing typical peatland vegetation. At both sites, water sampled at various depths and distances to the buried road presented similar nutrient concentrations to the means measured in the undisturbed reference ecosystems. The surface elevations observed in the restored areas show that the compaction and levelling is an effective way to re-establish and keep elevations similar to the surrounding peatland. The return of peatland plant communities varied depending on the site, mainly due to local factors. Ultimately, the results of this project show that the Burial Under Peat Method complies with restoration objectives. Furthermore, it is cost-effective in comparison to completely remove the mineral material. Recent research projects study alternative restoration techniques to the Burial Under Peat Method on a Sphagnum-dominated peatland impacted by a clay road in Northern Alberta. Among the techniques tested, the Moss Layer Transfer Technique is initiated on mineral substrate and on different peat thickness.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program