Increasing tree planting

We're taking the innovative approach of buying and growing our own stocks of native trees. It's part of our commitment to plant an additional three million trees by 2030.

Increasing tree planting across National Highways network

We've awarded nearly £3 million to a West Sussex nursery Greenwood Plants to secure our future pipeline of young trees.

Greenwood Plants, near Arundel, is one of the UK’s largest growers for the commercial sector. Starting in Autumn 2024, it will help grow millions of native trees from seed over a five-year period.

National Highways staff visit Greenwood nursery
From left to right, Melanie Asker, Managing Director, Greenwood Plants, National Highways' Malcolm Dare (Executive Director Commercial and Procurement), Steve Elderkin (Director, Environmental Sustainability), Greig Burt, Commercial and Procurement
National Highways staff visit Greenwood nursery
Greenwood Plants' Ellie Coutts and Kevin Merritt show our representatives round their Arundel nursery.
National Highways staff visit Greenwood Nursery

Native species, including Holly, Scots Pine, Oak, Rowan and Beech, will be grown peat-free at West Sussex and Cheshire nurseries. We've chosen trees that will provide seasonal interest through the year and blend well with surrounding natural environments.

Most trees will be supplied as two year old seedlings with exposed roots (no soil attached). These 'bareroot seedlings are easier to transport and quicker to plant and establish. We'll plant them between November and March.

Greenwood Plants' Ellie Coutts holds one of the seedlings
Greenwood Plants' Ellie Coutts holds one of the seedlings
Bareroot seedlings
Bareroot seedlings - easier to transport, quick to establish

Announcing this major funding, Malcolm Dare, National Highways Executive Director Commercial and Procurement said:

“The positive impacts of trees and green spaces on the environment are significant, which is why I am proud to be awarding today’s significant funding.

“We are all aware of the consequences of climate change, proving that we can no longer afford to be indifferent or complacent about this issue. That’s why we’re doing all we can to tackle the ecological problems we face by investing in vital projects like these to improve our road network.”

Melanie Asker, Managing Director Greenwood Plants, added:

“We are really proud to be supporting National Highways in their goals of reaching Net Zero and improving biodiversity across the country, principles that are very close to our heart here at Greenwood.”

Working with our neighbours

Many of the three million trees will be planted with partners, neighbouring landowners or environmental organisations.

For example, we're running a nature-based flood management pilot, working with 13 landowners across three Yorkshire and North West catchment areas.

We are busy evaluating these trials. Indications are that tree planting, together with leaky dams, ponds and ditches can reduce the flow of water to our network.

Not only does this reduce flood risk for us, but it can benefit nature and sequester carbon.

We are also working with many partner environmental organisation, such as the Wildlife Trusts. We estimate that projects we're funding are already planting hundreds of thousands of trees.

Our strategy for sustainability

Over the next three decades, we plan to deliver a sustainable road network that protects and enhances the environment:

  • mitigating the impact of England’s busiest roads
  • ensuring that our land can be a force for good for generations to come

Our recently published Environmental Sustainability Strategy sets out our vision of a connected country and a thriving environment.