In Alberta, peat and peat operations are defined in the Conservation and Reclamation Regulation under the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act. Peat is a material composed almost entirely of organic matter from the partial decomposition of plants growing in wet conditions. A peat operation is defined as any opening or excavation in, or working of, the surface or subsurface of the ground for the purpose of working, recovering, opening up or proving any peat or peaty substance, and includes any associated infrastructure connected with the peat operation.

Peat Allocation Policy Directive

In 2016, a new peat policy was adopted by the department to govern the allocation and management of peat resources on public land.

The department applied Alberta’s new approach to public land management using the Integrated Resource Management System model that included incorporating cumulative effects in the long-term management of peat resources on Alberta’s landscape.

Potential Peat Resources Available in Alberta

To effectively manage and reduce impacts to sensitive lands, fish and wildlife, and species at risk, available peat resources that had the least land use constraints were mapped to guide where peat operators could explore and apply for potential dispositions. The process and outcome are reflected in a peat application area map that is attached to the policy directive.

A digital GIS shape file is also available for planning purposes by proponents.

Acquiring Surface Material Dispositions on Public Land for a Peat Operation

The general administrative process related to obtaining approval for peat exploration and leasing of public land for a peat operation is described in:

Peat Exploration

Prior to applying for a Surface Materials Lease for a peat operation, exploration of potential peat resources is generally required to confirm whether a peatland has sufficient quality and quantity of peat to support a viable commercial peat operation. In addition, during the exploration phase of a potential peat development, additional baseline environmental information must be collected to support a lease application.

A detailed guide has been prepared to assist peat operators in preparing an application for a Surface Materials Lease.

Surface Material Lease (SML) Application for Peat Operations

Making an application for a Surface Materials Lease for a peat operation is described in the policy directive as well as the administrative guide above.

The following three documents must be prepared and supplied with the application for the application to be considered complete:

  1. Biophysical Report
  2. Peat Development and Operations Plan
  3. Conservation and Reclamation Plan

The application is made through the department’s Electronic Dispositions System, which can be accessed at:

Reclamation Requirements

Conservation and Reclamation Plans

Base requirements for Conservation and Reclamation Plans for peat operations on private and public land can be found at:

Submit 8 copies of your plan to:

Provincial Approvals
Petroleum Plaza South Tower, Fifth Floor, South
9915 - 108 Street
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
T5K 2G8

Historical Operating Reports (HOR)

HOR’s for reclamation is required for operators holding more than 500 ha of disturbed lands approved prior to January 1, 2014.

HOR Submission deadline is March 31st. Submissions years are 2017, 2019, 2021, and every 5 years until reclamation certification.

Submissions can be sent to:

Annual Reporting

Peat operators with active peat operations and operations that have not yet received reclamation certification are required to submit to the department an annual return that reports on the quantities of peat removed and the status of reclamation for each peat disposition.

The reporting form titled ‘Annual Operating Report (AOR) Peat Operations’ can be found under the Commercial, Industrial & Personal section at:

These reports must be submitted to the email below by March 31st of each year.


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Updated: Sep 18, 2018