The Manitoba government will ban peat harvesting in more than 80 wildlife management areas as well as in provincial parks.
It will also require peat extraction companies to post security when they obtain production licences to ensure they restore or rehabilitate peatlands once harvested.
The new measures are outlined in a bill introduced in the Manitoba legislature on Wednesday.
Bill 61 (The Peatlands Stewardship and Related Amendments Act) would transfer responsibility for peat harvesting to the Conservation and Water Stewardship Department from the Department of Mineral Resources.
Conservation Minister Gord Mackintosh said the government recognizes that peat extraction is not the same as mining. "It has its very own unique dynamics and requires a unique stewardship regime," he said.
Manitoba overhauled its peatland policies after the public raised concerns that a company had received a licence and intended to harvest peat in Hecla/Grindstone Provincial Park. The government quashed the development and paid the company close to a half-million dollars in compensation. It also banned peat extraction in all provincial parks. That order will now be legislated.
The Wildlife Management Areas in which peat harvesting will also be barred represent nearly five million acres of land. The only WMA in which production will be allowed is Moose Creek, north of Riverton, where extraction rights are already in place.