Hundreds of thousands of conifers and non-native species of trees across the West Midlands are to be replaced with native varieties like oak, ash and beech in a project to save ancient woodlands.
The move follows concerns that hectares of ancient trees across the country are under threat from overgrazing, climate change, neglect, and the introduction of 'alien' species.
A Government policy - entitled Keepers of Time - will produce initiatives which will be implemented over the next 20 years.
Ancient woodland only accounts for about a third of the 1.1 million hectares of total woodland across England, and only 15 per cent of it receives adequate protection. There are nearly 40,000 hectares of ancient woodland in the Midlands, ranging from Clunton Coppice, in Shrop-shire and Sutton Park, in Birmingham to Queens Wood, in North Herefordshire.
Bill Heslegrave, from the Forestry Commission, said the organisation would be consulting with park managers in the region over how to introduce the policy in due course.
Mr Heslegrave said: "This policy will prevent any further decline in our ancient woods by addressing the threats that they face, restoring the majority of the conifer plantations established on ancient sites back to native woodland, and creating more native woodland and other habitats to complement and buffer the surviving remnants of ancient woodland.
"It is more of a case of protection in Birmingham, it is a big urban area and there can be pressure from develop-ment."
The Woodland Trust, the woodland conservation charity, welcomed news of the programme but said more commitment was needed if woodlands were to be saved.
Sue Holden, chief executive of the trust, said: "The aspirations of the policy cannot be achieved unless all parts of Government publicly commit to ensure their activities don't destroy or damage woodland too. The trust regards the restoration of ancient woods planted with conifers as a priority to improve woodland wildlife."