Revegetation of bare peat substrates: the case of a saline bog, New Brunswick

Cillian Breathnach and Line Rochefort

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

hay-transfer, peatland, plug-transfer, rehabilitation, restoration, salt-toxicity

Breathnach et al. 2008: Revegetation of bare peat substrates


Harvested peatlands affected by salt contamination present an ensemble of complicating factors concerning their revegetation / rehabilitation, including salt toxicity, frost heaving, flood water control and perhaps most importantly lack of a viable seed bank. This study involves the identification of methods that may be used in the rehabilitation of a coastal post-harvest peatland on Pokesudie Island, New Brunswick. During a storm in January 2001 a large volume of seawater was washed onto the peatland. Despite mitigation efforts the peat resource has remained too saline for horticultural use and rehabilitation methods are being sought. These involve the use of various salt marsh species to establish a vegetal cover of the peat surface to first help stabilize the substrate. Various re-introduction techniques such as plug transfer at various densities and the use of hay transfer were tested. The use of fertiliser was also examined. Highest revegetation rates were achieved using hay transfers taken from swards of Juncus buffonius and salt marsh vegetation dominated by Spartina pectinata. Fertiliser use did not significantly increase plant establishment. This research may be applicable to other coastal peatland rehabilitation projects.