Working together for a better railway for nature

Network Rail are one of the biggest landowners in the UK, with 20,000 miles of track across the country, much of it home to trees and hedgerows. The Tree Council acts as a ‘critical friend’ to Network Rail as they seek to improve their approach to managing vegetation, creating a railway that is better for nature and for people.

Our work with Network Rail

  • Promoting progress on the Varley Vegetation Management Review. In July 2019, we were invited with other stakeholders to give feedback on Network Rail’s progress on addressing the recommendations of the Varley Vegetation Management Review. DfT expects Network Rail to achieve no net biodiversity loss on any route by 2024, and net biodiversity gain by 2040, with an action plan for this first target to be ready by the end of 2019. These targets will greatly benefit trees, hedgerows and wildlife throughout Britain.
  • Promoting the safe management of ash dieback disease. We are providing guidance to lineside engineers on approaches to managing the risks posed by ash dieback whilst minimising ecological impact.
  • Improving approaches to vegetation management. We are working with Network Rail on a hedgerow establishment trial in Hadley Wood in North London, an area that has been affected by over-management of vegetation. We’re exploring what form of hedgerow establishment works best for nature and for safety in that area. This potentially invaluable information will help Network Rail apply this technique to sites around the country.
  • Working with communities and lineside neighbours. We are also working with various Network Rail routes on how best to consult with communities about necessary vegetation management works, to ensure communities feel listened to and informed.
  • Planting trees with communities around the country. In 2020 Network Rail made the ground-breaking commitment to provide £1million funding to plant thousands of trees within communities across the UK. The Tree Council teamed up with Network Rail to deliver this ambitious community planting programme.
  • Engaging young people in tree planting. In April we ran a competition with Network Rail at the Big Bang Festival, an event that inspires young people to get involved in science and engineering. Beauchamp College won the prize and planted an orchard and hedgerows during National Tree Week 2019.

Additional information

For more information on how Network Rail manage lineside vegetation please visit If you have a specific concern relating to vegetation management, call the 24-hour national helpline on 03457 11 41 41.

Latest news on our work with Network Rail