In North America, the cultivation of 1.6 billion tree seedlings annually relies heavily on peat moss, sparking significant environmental challenges. Canada, a global steward of a quarter of the world's northern peatlands, saw its GHG emissions from peat extraction reach 2.1 million tonnes in 2021.
While peat moss is effective under moderate conditions, it struggles during droughts. Drying out, peat moss becomes resistant to rehydration, pushing moisture from seedling roots and increasing mortality. This is particularly severe in Southern BC’s Interior, where rising droughts and wildfires demand frequent replanting, escalating emissions, and operational costs. Currently, there are no large-scale viable alternatives for growing these seedlings. Additionally, biochar by-product from biomass-powered energy facilities, instead of being utilized sustainably, is predominantly relegated to combustion or landfilling. This practice overlooks biochar’s potential as a stable, long-term carbon sink, inadvertently turning a potentially valuable resource into an environmental liability.