Helicopter sows moss on moors

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A rare moss was scattered across remote moorlands from a helicopter yesterday in an effort to help regenerate the moors.

The project is attempting to use sphagnum moss, which is able to hold many times its own weight in water and allows new peat to develop, to restore the peatlands of the Peak District.

The scheme's organisers said sphagnum moss maintained the high level of moisture needed to allow vegetation to flourish and protect peatlands from erosion. The moss was hit by acid rain and is in danger of disappearing from the national park.

Scientists have been able to propagate the tiny plant in a laboratory. If the trial by the Moors for the Future partnership is successful, the plan is to restore more than 2,000 acres of Peak District and South Pennine moorland.

Jon Stewart, from Natural England, said: "England's moorland peatlands are a crucial buffer against climate change through their role as a carbon store, but have been damaged by centuries of inappropriate management and pollution. We have to stop the rot and ensure that peatlands are properly looked after."

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