Scientific program of the 2018-2023 Collaborative Research & Development (CRD) grant
The CRD grant titled "Management and Ecological Restoration of Peatlands for a Sustainable Canadian Horticultural Peat Industry" continues the research initiated under the Industrial Research Chair and the previous CRD grant with researchers from various Canadian universities taking advantage of their multidisciplinary expertise.
The Canadian peat industry and its association (Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association - CSPMA) promoted ecological restoration as their first choice of rehabilitation strategies for peatland extracted for horticultural purposes.
Peatland restoration attempts to resolve the conflict between environmental impacts and the economical use of peatlands by enabling the return of the carbon accumulating function of peatlands.
Industry based research programs initiated 25 years ago successfully develop a restoration method for bogs (ombotrophic peatlands) but there is still some habitats within extracted bogs (i.e. mineral roads) in need of further research to achieve sound ecological restoration.
Moreover, restoration success must be more documented in regards with phosphorous fertilization, fauna diversity (birds, insects and amphibians) and for plant species of special concern.
We also propose to develop science-based criteria (thresholds) to assess the effectiveness of restoration actions which includes, amongst other things, to develop hydrology and carbon sequestration indicators to link with revegetation pattern and restoration success.
Restoration techniques for sites where minerotrophic peat is exposed after peat extraction will also be investigated, specifically for rewetting and plant introduction.
The impacts of peat extraction operations on water quality will also be evaluated.
Lastly, optimization of Sphagnum farming techniques for the sustainable production of Sphagnum fibers is of interest for the peat industry, notably by strengthening the enzymatic latch mechanism that limits decomposition in organic soils.
The proposed research program is pan-Canadian and is guided by a perspective of sustainable and responsible development of the peat resource.