The National Park where humans are fighting back against climate change

It's 70 years on 17 April since the Peak District became the UK’s first National Park.

This meant the natural landscape and history would be protected for the benefit of everyone.

But its future is still under threat from many sides, from climate change, to moorland fires.

Des Coleman has been to the wild, heather covered hillsides of the Staffordshire Moorlands, to hear about the challenges faced by those who protect the landscape, but also how they're trying to overcome them.

I think the first thing to say about the Peak District National Park is that after lockdown they are even more beautiful and bewildering than ever before.

We couldn’t have had a more perfect day on which to film. The air was crystal clear and landscape so vast it seemed to stretch beyond the horizon, undulating and gently sprinkled with ruby reds, blushing blues, fractured greens and gold.

But now to the more serious matter of why we were there. In short - man’s impact on our dear old Peak District.

The worst - numerous fires that had devastated miles and miles of heathland.

  • Fires on the Roaches in 2018

Chris Dean from Moors for the Future told me,

The Peak District stretches for hundreds of miles across many counties.

Its underpinned by peat, a natural soil deposit of partially decayed vegetation and organic matter that promotes growth in wildlife and horticulture.

It adds stability to the hills, as well as trapping over 400million tonnes of CO2. All of this and it still affords us a picturesque backdrop.

But, formed thousands of years ago through the movement of tectonic plates and glaciers, it is extremely vulnerable when it comes to a change in our climate.

It is currently being bombarded with an ever-changing weather story, that we as humans are creating by adding carbon to the air, deforestation and urbanisation.

But as you will see, it's not all bad.

Chris tells me, "This is an example of human beings using their fantastic intervention to actually get it right and start to change that climate change story around."

They are increasing the growth of a special type of moss which holds 20 times its own weight in water to combat flooding.

They're putting in place artificial gullies which slow the flow of water down, so reducing the amount of erosion.

And the wildlife and vegetation are returning, three years on from those devastating wildfires.

Firefighters battle a fire on the Moorlands. Credit: PA

"The environmental story where we started, twenty years ago, was that this is the most degraded upland environment, upland landscape anywhere in Europe. That's not the story now."

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