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Biodiversity on Britain’s railway

As one of Britain’s biggest landowners, we are responsible for looking after plants and wildlife on the railway.

Biodiversity is the variety of plants and animals we see in different habitats. Britain’s railway provides a habitat to many rare species, and we must do everything we can to protect them.

The railway plays a vital role in connecting fragmented wildlife habitats across our countryside, reducing disturbance to our neighbours, and capturing carbon through the network’s six million trees.

That’s why our ambition is to let nature flourish. As part of our environmental sustainability strategy, we’ve committed to continuing to look after plants and wildlife by protecting and maintaining their habitats and creating new ones to increase biodiversity.

What are we doing to protect biodiversity on the railway? 

Over the next five years, we’ll transform our approach to vegetation management to deliver a safe, efficient, and biodiverse railway fit for the future.

We’ve worked with biodiversity experts using satellites to survey the whole of our estate, which condensed together, is one and a half times the Isle of Wight size. 

The satellite data allows us to split our land into different habitats, including woodland and various kinds of meadows. Using this information, we can look beyond our fence line and find similar habitats near us. So, we can then work with our neighbours to improve the connections between different habitats and increase biodiversity on the railway.

Rare types of species recorded within 1km of the rail network: 228 plants, 100 birds, 23 butterflies, 11 reptiles and amphibians, 22 mammals, 120 moths, 53 bees and 213 other invertebrates
Rare species recorded on or within 1km of the rail network

Trees and other railway habitats

Our biodiversity targets

2021

Publish new biodiversity standard to help us better care for plants and wildlife.

2024

  • Collect baseline information about our diverse railway habitats so that we can manage them effectively.
  • Run a reliable railway and look after all existing plants and wildlife on our land in a way that causes no net loss of biodiversity.

2035

  • Increase levels of biodiversity near the railway by creating new habitats or managing invasive weeds.
  • Lead the way in land management, advising others on how to manage and increase biodiversity.

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