An overview of peatland restoration in North America: where are we after 25 years?

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© 2016 Society for Ecological Restoration Peatland restoration in North America (NA) was initiated approximately 25 years ago on peat-extracted bogs. Recent advances in peatland restoration in NA have expanded the original concepts and methodology. Restoration efforts in NA now include restoring peatlands from many diverse types of disturbances (e.g. roads, agriculture, grazing, erosion, forestry, and petrol industry infrastructure impacts) and occur in a greater array of peatland types (e.g. fens and swamps). Because fens are groundwater and surface flow driven, techniques to restore the hydrology of fens are generally more complicated than bogs. Restoring a greater variety of peatland types on a large-scale basis (> 10 ha) commands new techniques for reestablishing a broader array of plants other than Sphagnum spp., including non-Sphagnum mosses, sedges, nonericaceous shrubs, and trees. The rationale for restoring peatlands has expanded to include legal requirements, wetland mitigation and banking, climate mitigation, water quality, and as part of responsible ecosystem management for industry or society. In the past 25 years, peatland restoration in NA has evolved from (1) trial and error to a more empirically based scientific approach, (2) small site-specific experiments to landscape-scale restoration (e.g. hydrological connectivity, ecological fragmentation), and (3) individual stakeholder (academic) to multiple stakeholders across jurisdictional boundaries (private, local, and regional governmental agencies, NGOs, and so on). However, many research gaps still exist that must be addressed to enhance our ability to restore peatlands successfully.

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Restoration Ecology