Peatland Restoration

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.

Why is this important?

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.

Peatland Restoration

Our Mission

We develop and provide industry and practitioners practical, cost-effective, and science based solutions for reclaiming boreal peatlands. We conduct critical research for developing peatland management practices, and train highly qualified personnel (HQP) in peatland science and reclamation techniques through summer internships, seminars and workshops.

Research Topics

  • 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) modelling, and reclamation assessment
  • Functional evaluation of reclaimed peatlands to meet provincial standards and policy requirements


  • Dr. Bin Xu, Program Lead
  • Melanie Bird, Research Technician


  • Dr. Maria Strack, Collaborator, Professor, University of Waterloo
  • Dr. Line Rochefort, Collaborator, Professor, Laval University
  • Dr. Dale Vitt, Collaborator, Professor Emeritus, Southern Illinois University Carbondale 
  • Dr. Scott Davidson, Collaborator, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Waterloo
  • Dr. Felix Nwaishi, Collaborator, Assistant Professor, Mount Royal University
  • Dr. Greg Mcdermid, Collaborator, Associate Professor, University of Calgary
  • Dr. Mir Mustafizur Rahman, Adjunct Professor, University of Calgary
  • Meike Lemmer, Graduate Student, Laval University 
  • Torben Russo, Graduate Student, University of Waterloo
  • Percy Korash, Graduate Student, University of Waterloo
  • Pascal Guerin, Graduate Student, Laval University
  • Christine Isabel, Graduate Student, Laval University
  • Murdoch McKinnon, Graduate Student, University of Waterloo

Looking for more information about how the Centre for Boreal Research conducts peatland restoration research?

Contact us