The exploitation and ecological restoration of peatlands in Canada: a history of cooperation between industry and academia

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Gwendal Breton, Claire Boismenu, Line Rochefort

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In Canada, peatlands cover approximately 113.6 million hectares. This represents 13% of the territory, and accounts for 90% of wetland ecosystems found across the country. Peatlands provide many ecosystem services benefitting humans such as carbon sequestration, and are one of the most cost-effective solutions to mitigate global warming effects. In North America, peatlands are exploited to extract peat from which the horticultural industry is the main consumer. However, this industrial activity requires peatlands drainage and vegetation removal which has adverse consequences on hydrology, biodiversity, and associated ecological services loss. Without human intervention, the degraded peatland may witness several decades of bare soils before a typical vegetation spontaneously re-implants. In light of this situation, the Peatland Ecology Research Group (PERG) was created in 1992 at Université Laval, Québec, Canada. PERG collaborates with scientists from various horizons, including academia, provincial and federal agencies as well as the Canadian peat industry. They collaborate on projects aiming towards sustainable and integrated peatland management. For the past 30 years, PERG’s research team has developed peatland restoration techniques and significantly contributed to improving knowledge about these specific wetlands. This case study relates the cooperative and collaborative history of PERG and the Canadian peat industry through a multiplicity of peatland restoration projects in the Canadian context and the related fundamental and technical knowledge resulting from this joint work.

Resource Type:
Conference Presentation, SER2021

Pre-approved for CECs under SER's CERP program