Peat and peat operations in Alberta are defined and regulated under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act.


Peat is composed almost entirely of organic matter. It is a product of the partial decomposition of plants growing in wet conditions.

A peat operation is any opening or excavation in, or working of, the surface or subsurface of the ground. The operation does any of the following with peat:

  • working
  • recovering
  • opening up
  • proving

A peat operation also includes its associated infrastructure.

Alberta Environment and Protected Areas has a variety of policies and plans to help operators handle peat. These include help with applications for an operation, conservation and reclamation plans and reporting.


In 2016, the Alberta government adopted a new peat policy that governs the allocation and management of peat resources on public land.

The Alberta government used the integrated resource management system model to design the policy. This incorporates cumulative effects in the long-term management of peat resources.

Read the policy at: Allocation and Sustainable Management of Peat Resources on Public Land.

Mapping resources

The Alberta government has mapped available peat resources with the least land use constraints. The map guides where peat operators can explore and apply for dispositions.

The mapping manages and reduces impacts to:

  • sensitive lands
  • fish and wildlife
  • at-risk species

The peat application area map can be found in the policy directive.

The Peat Application Area dataset depicts available land which may contain peat resources and the requirement of a peat application in Alberta. Note: peat exploration is not allowed if there are environmental concerns for water, wildlife or parks. This product represents where a peat harvesting application can be submitted.

The Peat Application Area dataset was created to support the directive Allocation and Sustainable Management of Peat Resources on Public Land.


There is a general administrative process for:

  • obtaining approval for peat exploration
  • leasing public land for a peat operation

Read about the process at: Process for the Administration and Maintenance of Applications and Dispositions for Peat Operations on Public Land.

Exploration is required before applying to begin a peat operation. Exploration confirms whether peatland has sufficient quality and quantity of peat to support a viable commercial operation.

During the exploration phase, additional baseline environmental information must be collected.

Disposition applications

After exploration is completed, a disposition for a Surface Material Lease (SML) may be applied for.

Read more about the process at: Guide to Surface Materials Lease Information Requirements for Peat Operations.

The policy directive describes applying for a disposition for an SML for peat operations.

An operator must include the following for an application to be considered complete:

  • biophysical report
  • peat development and operations plan
  • conservation and reclamation plan

Apply using the: Electronic Disposition System.

Reclamation requirements

A variety of reclamation requirements helps the Alberta government manage the province’s peat operations.

Conservation and reclamation plans

Operators must have conservation and reclamation plans for peat operations. These apply to operations on both public and private land.

Learn more at: Requirements for Conservation and Reclamation Plans for Peat Operations in Alberta.

An operator must submit 8 copies of each plan to the address below in the Contact section.


Historical operating reports (HORs)

HORs are required from operators who hold more than 500 hectares of disturbed lands approved prior to January 1, 2014. The HORs are reports on reclamation.

HORs must be submitted in 2019, 2021 and every 5 years thereafter until reclamation certification.

The submission deadline is March 31.

Send HORs to: [email protected].

Annual reports

Annual reports must be submitted every year on:

  • active peat operations
  • operations that have not yet received reclamation certification

These reports must include information about the following for each peat disposition:

  • the quantities of peat removed
  • the status of reclamation

To find the form, visit: Alberta Environment and Protected Areas land forms. Look under the section titled “Commercial, Industrial and Personal” for the Annual Operating Report (AOR) Peat Operations.

The annual submission deadline is March 31.

Send completed AORs to: [email protected].

Send 8 copies of your conservation and reclamation plans to: 

Provincial Approvals
Petroleum Plaza South Tower, 5th Floor, South
9915 108 Street
Edmonton, Alberta  T5K 2G8