North America, Europe and Asia have engaged in peat extraction for several centuries.

In Canada, peat is extracted primarily for horticultural purposes. Peatlands provide ecological goods and services such as:

  • water storage
  • carbon storage
  • water filtration
  • wildlife habitat

In Alberta, peat operations are defined in the Conservation and Reclamation Regulation. This is part of the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (EPEA). A peat operation is any opening or excavation in the ground’s surface or subsurface used to do the following with peat or peaty substance:

  • working
  • recovering
  • opening up
  • proving

This definition of peat operations includes any associated infrastructure.

Peat operations in Alberta are regulated by the EPEA, Water Act and Public Lands Act. Associated regulations also play a role.


The requirements for Conservation and Reclamation Plans for peat operations on private and public land can be found at: Requirements for Conservation and Reclamation Plans for Peat Operations in Alberta.

Applying for a peat operation

Certain approvals are required before commencing peat operations.

Water Act approval

All peat operations require a Water Act approval.

For more information, see the Water Act Approval Factsheet.

Public lands approval

A public lands surface-material lease application is also required for peat operations.

For more information, see: Peat.