Bales of heather fell from the sky onto a peat plateau in the Peak District yesterday, in the latest attempt to halt what scientists believe is a dangerous emitter of carbon dioxide.

Instead of acting as a natural store, or sink, for CO2, peat bogs such as the district's Bleaklow are leaking the gas, a process which experts put down to exposure to 200 years of pollution, overgrazing and fire. The gas is thought to be a big contributor to climate change. Helicopters interrupted the January tranquillity of a few sheep and muddy walkers to drop billions of heather seeds embedded in bales of brash, or cut heather, which should start sprouting in the spring.

The seeds will also be spread across the moorland by volunteers in the coming weeks. The rate of CO2 emission from eroded peat bogs is a matter growing concern for scientists: along with neighbouring Peak District hills such as Kinder Scout, it is thought the 700 sq km of the southern Pennine hills could be leaking as much CO2 as a town of almost 50,000 people. Britain's peat bogs store the equivalent of 10 times the country's total CO2 emissions.


Subscribe to IEMA's newsletters to receive timely articles, expert opinions, event announcements, and much more, directly in your inbox.