Improved construction of roads and pipelines to minimize impact on peatland greenhouse gas emissions

University of Calgary

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Carmon Creek, AB

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ERA often supports projects that help us to find a better way forward. That’s certainly the case with this project, one that may change the way we build roads and pipelines through peatlands. Northern peatlands form natural CO2 reduction systems known as carbon sinks. As vegetation and other life forms die, the bog absorbs them, preventing fire and natural decay from delivering GHGs into the atmosphere. Road and pipeline construction can disturb the natural operations of these carbon sinks so the bog on one side of the disturbance dries up, while the other side becomes excessively wet.

With support from industry, University of Calgary professor Maria Strack is investigating if changing road construction practices could preserve the ability of these sinks to store carbon. The project is quantifying the impact of alternative road construction techniques and recommending better construction practices.