Restoring peat-accumulating function on cutaway peatlands

Martha Graf and Line Rochefort

After Wise Use – The Future of Peatlands, Proceedings of the 13th International Peat Congress: Peatland After-Use

fens, north-america, reference-information, restoration

Graf et al. 2008: Restoring peat-accumulating function on cutaway peatlands


In order to focus restoration efforts towards specific vegetation groups in fen restoration, knowledge of the peat-accumulating potential of dominant fen species is critical. Historical information (macrofossil analyses) was examined and summarised to characterise fen peat of North American boreal peatlands. Cyperaceae and Sphagnum species were found to be important vegetation groups for accumulating organic matter. Addition- ally, the decomposition rates of vegetation on both a cutaway peatland and an undisturbed fen were examined. Litter type (leaves, roots/rhizomes or moss fragment) had a larger impact on the decomposition rates than differing environmental conditions. The two bryophytes tested had significantly lower mass losses (between 20- 25% for Polytrichum strictum and 11% for Sphagnum centrale) than the vascular plant litter (between 39-64%). Bryophytes should be an important component of fen restoration, due to their superior peat accumulating capacity, even on cutaway sites.