Market demand for peat moss
While Mer Bleue is owned and protected as a significant conservation area by the National Capital Commission, Alfred Bog is exposed to commercial exploitation. Over the last decade, a booming market for peat moss has resulted in large-scale, mechanized peat extraction in Alfred Bog. In addition to loss of the peat that goes to market, associated drainage operations eventually lower the water table over wide areas, killing the surface layer of sphagnum and other specialized vegetation. The bog could fall below the critical size needed for its survival.
Greenhouse gas emissions
Drainage exposes the peat to oxygen from the air. Exposed peat oxidizes at a rate that can exceed 1 cm/year, releasing carbon dioxide gas, recognized to be an important factor in global warming. This rate of oxidation over the 42 km2 of Alfred Bog would convert 420 000 cubic metres of peat/year into carbon dioxide — equivalent to putting an additional 24 000 family cars on the roads.
What has been done?
On 28 August 1988, led by the Ottawa Field-Naturalists and the Vankleek Hill Nature Society, the Nature Conservancy of Canada closed a deal to purchase 4500 acres of Alfred Bog. The money to acquire the property came from contributions by thousands of people, matched by government grants.
Once again, the Nature Conservancy has stepped to the fore, taking an option to purchase 3200 acres adjoining the 4500 acres already owned. The combined 7700 acres will be protected by Ontario Parks. The federal and provincial governments have each agreed to contribute one third of the total amount. But the Nature Conservancy still has to find the remaining one-third — a hefty $820 000.
In early October, the OFNC sent the Nature Conservancy $55 000 toward the Alfred Bog purchase. The Conservancy must take out a loan to complete the purchase and there are a few outstanding issues concerning titles (the property was assembled over the years) and boundary lines. These issues are expected to be cleared and an official announcement of the purchase will be made before year end.
There will still be a loan to pay down, so donations continue to be welcome. They continue to come in and we will send another contribution later.
What we can do?
There is good reason to believe that once again, a large number of private individuals will show their determination to save Alfred Bog by making a tax-deductable donation. Although we cannot expect to receive additional federal or provincial grants beyond those being offered, a strong demonstration of public support will stimulate institutional and foundation contributions. Together, we can reach this goal.
How to make a donation
Contributions can be made to the Ottawa Field Naturalists or directly to the Nature Conservancy.
Send cheques to:
The Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club
Box 35069 Westgate P.O.
Ottawa ON K1Z 1A2
The Nature Conservancy of Canada
110 Eglinton Ave. West, Suite 400
Toronto ON M4R 1A3
IMPORTANT: Mark your donation, “ALFRED BOG FUND — OFNC”