The drawings etched into Peru's coastal desert are a UN World Heritage site dating from 500 AD.

Lima - The environmental group Greenpeace has apologised to Peruvians upset by its stunt at the world-famous Nazca lines, which authorities say harmed the archaeological marvel.

The apology on Wednesday followed a senior official's announcement that Peru would seek criminal charges against Greenpeace activists who allegedly damaged the lines by leaving footprints in the adjacent desert.

Greenpeace regularly riles governments and corporations it deems environmental scofflaws.

But Monday's stunt timed to coincide with UN climate talks in nearby Lima may have backfired.

In a statement, Greenpeace said it was “deeply concerned about any offense” Peruvians may have taken.

Activists had laid a message in fabric letters promoting clean energy beside the figure of a hummingbird.

The drawings etched into Peru's coastal desert are a UN World Heritage site dating from 500 A.D. - Sapa-AP