About the Program
Boreal peatlands provide important ecological and economic goods and services including water regulation, filtration, and storage, carbon sequestration, wildlife habitat, and natural resources (peat). About 17% of Alberta’s land base represents various forms of peatlands, of which the majority is located in the resource exploration and extraction regions of northern Alberta. Human activities are increasing pressure on the long-term stability and overall health of boreal peatlands, including (1) fragmentation of the landscape and destruction of habitat, (2) altered hydrology by compaction and drainage, (3) physical and chemical changes in soil and water properties, and (4) loss of ecosystem functions and services.
Reclamation of altered landscapes in northern Alberta is becoming increasingly important as the regulatory requirement become more stringent. Oil and gas and forestry companies are liable for reclaiming the disturbed land and associated linear features, but it is the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that carry out most of the reclamation work. The industry’s need for efficient, cost-effective reclamation methods and techniques has never been greater in order to meet the government regulatory requirements.
Working closely with industry, government agencies, practitioners and academic partners, our applied research aims to address challenges associated with peatland reclamation and management. Our research topics range from civil earthwork, reclamation, site assessment to ecosystem functions and services with the overall goal to reduce our ecological footprint on boreal peatlands and to ensure long-term sustainability of Alberta’s resource driven economy.
The Peatland Restoration program is jointly funded by the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), NAIT, industry and SME partners and led by Dr. Bin Xu, NSERC Industrial Research Chair. Our extended research network includes partnerships with University of Waterloo, Laval University and University of Calgary.
- Develop and provide industry and practitioners practical, cost-effective, and science based solutions for reclaiming boreal peatlands
- Conduct critical research for developing peatland management practices
- Training of highly qualified personnel (HQP) in peatland science and reclamation techniques through summer internships, seminars and workshops
- Oil sands exploration (OSE) wells assessment and reclamation
- Clay pad removal and donor material transfer to promote moss establishment
- Linear feature deactivation in boreal peatlands
- Vegetation response to topography, hydrology, and chemistry on reclaimed peatland sites
- Carbon balance of reclaimed well pads and winter roads over time
- Use of sedges and other target peatland species as a vegetation management tool in peatland reclamation
- Selection and propagation of suitable peatland/wetland species for naturally saline soils
- Assessing and mitigating linear feature impact on peatland greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
- Use of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and remote sensing in peatland classification, greenhouse gas (GHG) modeling, and reclamation assessment
- Functional evaluation of reclaimed peatlands to meet provincial standards and policy requirements
- Dr. Bin Xu, Program Lead
- Melanie Bird, Research Technician
- Kimberley Murray, Research Technician
- Dr. Maria Strack, Collaborator, Associate Professor, University of Waterloo
- Dr. Line Rochefort, Collaborator, Professor, Laval University
- Dr. Dale Vitt, Collaborator, Professor Emeritus, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
- Dr. Greg Mcdermid, Collaborator, Associate Professor, University of Calgary
- Dr. Mir Mustafizur Rahman, Adjunct Professor, University of Calgary
- Saraswati Saraswati, Graduate Student, University of Waterloo
- Julie Lovitt, Graduate Student, University of Calgary
- Torben Russo, Graduate Student, University of Waterloo
- Meike Lemmer, Graduate Student, Laval University
- Annie He, Graduate Student, University of Calgary