More than 650ha of new woodland will be planted between London and Birmingham as part of the first phase of High Speed 2 (HS2).
HS2 Ltd said that the trees would be planted to help reduce the visual impact of the line and create valuable new wildlife habitats.
It said that the trees would create a new series of landscape features, replace lost woodland and help to create “green corridors” linking isolated wooded areas with new planting.
The 7M trees and shrubs will be grown in the UK by family-run Crowders Nurseries in Horncastle, Lincolnshire. HS2 Ltd said that the company was adept at sourcing and propagating tree seed having previously provided planting for London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
HS2 Ltd said that the new planting would be a mix of native species tailored to each location, with a particular commitment to reintroducing species currently in decline, such as the Midlands Hawthorn and the Black Poplar, widely considered, it said, to be the UK’s most endangered native tree.
“HS2 is doing more than any other major project to protect the environment and leave as little trace as possible. The new woodland will be managed for up to 50 years so that the trees are protected and communities will be able to enjoy the new woodlands for hundreds of years to come,” said HS2 minister Andrew Jones.
“HS2 is not only cutting journey times and providing rail passengers with thousands of extra seats every day, it is also delivering wider economic benefits for the whole country.
“The planting of these trees along the route of the first phase will contribute to making HS2 one of the most environmentally responsible infrastructure schemes this country has ever seen as well as one of the most ambitious ecology and woodland projects anywhere in the UK.”
The government has also established an additional £5M fund to create new native, broadleaf woodland, and enhance existing ancient woodland. This, it said, was on top of the package of compensation for ancient woodland lost during construction measures already in place.
As part of the fund, the government said that £1M has been made available to the Forestry Commission to support projects that would help restore, enhance and extend ancient woodland on private land or in partnership with multiple landowners.
The government said that it also remained committed to planting 11M trees over the course of this Parliament, and is aspiring to reach 12% woodland cover by 2060.
Construction is due to begin early next year. The first batch, of around 1M trees and shrubs, will be delivered to sites identified for advance planting throughout the route from autumn 2017 to spring 2018.