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The Power of Peat

30 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 13 March 2012

In the fight against climate change the peatlands of the British Isles are one of our greatest assets. A healthy peat bog can absorb more carbon dioxide and store it for longer than forests of a similar size. But we're still destroying our peat at a frightening rate. It's mined for use by gardeners, it's burned in power stations, taken by traditional peat-cutters and ravaged by moorland fires.

In 'Costing the Earth' Tom Heap meets the people leading the fightback. He takes to the skies above the Peak District where helicopters are dropping rocks and heather brash onto remote hillsides to heal the wounds caused by two centuries of acid rain. He joins the teams blocking drains and planting pods of sphagnum moss in an effort to bring carbon-sucking life back to the blasted heaths of the peaks.

Producer: Alasdair Cross.

  • A helicopter waiting to lift heather brash onto the peaks

    A helicopter waiting to lift heather brash onto the peaks

    The peat of the Peak District was badly damaged by acid rain from industrial pollution. Moors For The Future is an organisation trying to halt erosion and rebuild the peat by stabilising the bare earth and blocking the drains that dry out the soil. Helicopters are used to reach the most isolated areas of damage.

    Moors For The Future
  • Peak District Mountain Hare on peat land

    Peak District Mountain Hare on peat land

    Mountain Hare were introduced to the Peak District in the 19th century. Photo courtesy of Jonathan Aylen, Manchester University.

  • A drainage ditch on Chat Moss

    A drainage ditch on Chat Moss

    Horticultural peat has been extracted from Chat Moss for many years. A public inquiry this month will decide if cutting can continue.
    Photo courtesy of Alan Wright.

    BBC report on Chat Moss
  • Peak District peat from the air

    Peak District peat from the air



  1. Image for Costing the Earth

    Costing the Earth

    Man's effect on the environment, questioning accepted truths, challenging those in charge and…

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