What is Canadian sphagnum peat moss?
Canadian sphagnum peat moss (CSPM) is partially decomposed sphagnum moss. Sphagnum’s large cell structure enables it to absorb air and water like a sponge. Although peat moss does not contain nutrients, it does adsorb nutrients added to or present in the soil, releasing them over time as the plants require. This saves valuable nutrients which are otherwise lost through leaching.
Is it true that it takes several thousand years for sphagnum peat moss to form?
No. Peat forms at a rate of 1 to 2 millimetres a year. According to a recent study by the North American Wetlands Conservation Council (Canada), harvested peatlands can be restored to ecologically balanced systems within 5 to 20 years after peat harvesting.
Isn’t there a shortage of peatland in Canada? Isn’t harvesting peat moss depleting these areas of wetlands?
No. There are more than 270 million acres of peatlands in Canada. Of that, only one in 6,000 acres (or .016 percent) is being used for peat harvesting. Canadian sphagnum peat moss is a sustainable resource. Annually, peat moss accumulates at more than 70 times the rate it is harvested. Harvested bogs are returned to wetlands so the ecological balance of the area is maintained.
Can the supply of peat moss be completely depleted?
No. The bogs that are being harvested will be restored to functioning wetlands. In addition, there are millions of acres of bogs in national parks and other preserves that can never be harvested.
What is the CSPMA Preservation and Reclamation Policy?
Canadian Sphagnum Peat Moss Association (CSPMA) members agree to abide by the reclamation policy for all new bog development. It includes:
- Identifying bogs for preservation.
- Leaving buffer zones of original vegetation to encourage natural succession after harvesting.
- Leaving a layer of peat below harvesting levels to encourage rapid regrowth.
- Returning harvested bogs to a wetlands ecosystem, or, if that’s not possible, to other wildlife habitats or agricultural production.
For more information on this topic, please go to the Preservation and Reclamation Policy.
What is Sportrichosis and does it come from Sphagnum peat moss or Sphagnum moss?
You may have read about a fungal disease call Cutaneous Sporotrichosis, a chronic infection identified by skin lesions. The fungus which causes this disease has been found in several kinds of organic material and, because in extremely rare cases this disease can cause death, gardeners are rightfully concerned about protecting themselves from contracting it. Unfortunately, however, some of the information circulating about how gardeners can contract this disease has been inaccurate. It confuses two separate products; one of which is known to carry the fungus and one of which does not.
One of the materials know to carry the sporotrichosis fungus is sphagnum moss. This product is frequently being confused with sphagnum peat moss, a soil conditioner used by gardeners. The difference is an important one. While there have been cases of sporotrichosis resulting from handling sphagnum moss, There have been no cases as a result of handling sphagnum peat moss. Sphagnum moss and sphagnum peat moss are not the same product, as many avid gardeners know.
Sphagnum moss is the living moss that grows on top of a sphagnum bog. The fungus sporotrichum schenckii is known to live in this growing moss.
Sphagnum peat moss is the dead material that accumulates as new live material grows on top and exerts pressure on the peat moss below. The fungus is not known to live in the levels of a sphagnum bog where peat forms. Harvesters of horticultural peat moss remove the top few inches of the live sphagnum moss and only harvest the peat from he lower layer.
“Living” sphagnum moss is used in the floral industry to make wreaths and to line hanging baskets. Workers in the industry have been warned to protect themselves with gloves and heavy clothing to avoid puncture wounds or scrapes. Gardeners wishing to use sphagnum moss to create their own baskets or for other uses should simply follow the same advice: Wear gloves and long sleeves to prevent coming into contact with the dried moss.
Gardeners worldwide use sphagnum peat moss as a soil amendment because its unique cell structure enables peat to:
- Aerate plant roots by loosening heavy clay soils;
- Add body to sandy soil; and
- Save water by absorbing and holding moisture
Peat moss is not only effective, it’s organic and safe to use.