The extraction of peat for fuel on an industrial basis started in the seventeenth century in eastern and northern Europe as the supply of wood for energy declined. The use of peat for energy in North America has always been small in scale. The demand for horticultural peat rose steadily after World War II on both continents (http://peatmoss.com/what-is-peat-moss/the-history-of-peat/). Currently, Europe and North America use peatmoss-peat extensively for landscaping, professional greenhouse production, hydrocarbon spills and waste water treatment. To date, in Canada, the main horticultural peat producers have impacted close to 20 000 ha. To place this into context, Canada's peatland extent is estimated to be around 125 000 000 ha with industrial activities mostly located on the southern margins of the peatland distribution. Most of the industrial peatlands are still in operation (16 000 ha), whereas close to 2000 ha have been restored according to the approach described below.
With the rising awareness of goods and services provided by wetlands in the 1980–90s (Costanza et al. 1997), the international industrial peat sector recognised the impacts their activities had on peatland functions and developed a strategy for responsible peatland management. Several countries have since developed their own strategy and encourage the restoration of industrial peatlands (Clarke and Rieley 2010). For the case of Canada, peatland restoration is particularly driven by their main US horticultural clients, who demand responsible management of wetlands, driven by their interior policy on wetlands (NAWCA 1989).
Based on two decades of trial-and-error experiments on restoring industrial peatlands, we have created a restoration framework. This framework draws on the ideas of assembly rules and restoration ecology. In this chapter, the framework is applied to restoring peatlands, but it should be applicable to the restoration of any ecosystem.
Assembly rules and restoration ecology
The union of assembly rules and restoration ecology should be beneficial for both areas of ecology (Keddy 1999; Temperton et al. 2004). Assembly rules are a helpful tool for restoration because, if the constraints of community membership are defined, restoration efforts can focus on manipulating these constraints to steer succession towards the desired community (Temperton et al. 2004). Restoration ecology has been criticised for being a haphazard collection of individual cases (Keddy 1999).