As many as 23 ancient woods in Bucks are under threat from development on the proposed HS2 route, according to new figures.

The Woodland Trust is renewing its call for better care and protection of ancient woods, which in many cases will be thousands of years old.

The charity estimates 575 woods across the country and under threat with and says revised planning laws still failing to protect the irreplaceable habitats.

Oliver Newham from the Woodland Trust, said: “Changes to the planning system in 2012 were supposed to help prevent ancient woodland from coming under threat, yet our caseload is as high as ever.

“We are seeing more positive action taken by landowners looking to manage and restore areas of ancient woodland under threat from overshading by non-native species.

“The first step in this process is recognising some of the tell-tale features that may remain in these woods and we hope our guidance will help people learn more about this irreplaceable habitat.”

Around 50 per cent of the charity’s current cases involve ancient woods which were once covered in native broadleaf trees before being under-planted or felled and replanted with conifers or non-native species during the last century.

The charity is three years into a five year £2.9m Heritage Lottery Fund project which aspires to support the restoration of up to 52,000 hectares of ancient woodland in 10 project areas throughout the UK. To date over 5,600 hectares have been committed to restoration.

The process sees areas which were once native broadleaf woodland and have since been replaced or overwhelmed by non-native species gradually returned to predominately native species over a number of years.

The key to this approach is to increase light levels to allow native plants and trees to thrive once more.

For more information on how you can help the Trust visit