UPDATE – 15/11/2016: The government has ignored Natural England’s advice that ancient woodland and SSSI’s should be removed from HS2’s planned route. The Wildlife Trust have stated that they are “very disappointed with the Government’s immediate rejection of key findings from their own advisors”. The Yorkshire Wildlife Trust has previously branded HS2 “a disaster for the natural environment”.

UPDATE – 13/07/2015: The Government has finally admitted that a further 14 ancient woods are threatened by HS2, bringing the route-wide total from 83 to 97.

The environmental impact of HS2 will be significant. The line will run through four Wildlife Trust reserves, 10 sites of special scientific interest and, most significantly , more than 40 ancient woodlands.

Ancient woodland is land that has been continuously wooded since 1600. The unique undisturbed soils and ecosystems found in these sites form the UK’s richest land habitat, home to a host of rare, protected and threatened wildlife. It now accounts for just 2% of the UK’s land area (3% in England).

Further reading: Government rejects Natural England’s environmental advice on HS2

References: The Woodland Trust, The Wildlife Trusts.