Create a national map of anthropogenic disturbances in peatlands


In addition to natural disturbances (e.g., wildfires), peatland composition, structure, function and services are severely affected by more localized anthropogenic disturbances. Examples in Canada include drainage for agriculture and forestry, flooding for hydroelectric reservoirs, peat extraction, and the adverse consequences of the country’s natural resources economy. Especially the impacts of past and present natural resource development activities (e.g., oil and natural gas exploration, production, storage and transport) on peatland function (e.g., vegetation productivity) and services (e.g., climate regulation) have received relatively little attention in Canada. This activity aims to develop a comprehensive spatial database summarizing anthropogenic disturbances on peatlands in Canada useful for refining our understanding of peatlands’ carbon sink-source strength from a climate regulation perspective.

Activity Outline

  • Compile publicly available spatial datasets on anthropogenic disturbances and their distribution across Canada relative to the country’s main peatland types and their main characteristics
  • Examine the relationships between land cover change over the last few decades and the spatial distributions of various anthropogenic disturbances in relation to the country’s main peatland types, their function and future anthropogenic disturbance vulnerability
  • Develop a qualitative method for peatland vulnerability mapping expanding on methods proposed, for example, in groundwater/karst hydrology and oil and gas development impacts on groundwater