Kent Pilot

Kent Lineside Habitat Management Pilot

Thank you for scanning the QR code located on our Protected Biodiversity Site sign.

The Kent Route Environment Team are currently undertaking live lineside habitat management trials up to Spring 2024.  Any work you’re intending to do on this site could significantly impact the success and outcomes of our Pilot project.

Before commencing any work on this site, please contact Mark Cope ( and your Line Manager for authority to proceed to undertake work on this site.


What We’re Trialling

We’re looking at the best, most sustainable ways we can manage our lineside vegetation. Therefore, we’re conducting trials of different vegetation management techniques to test ways of managing our trees and vegetation to improve nature conservation.

Different vegetation management techniques will be trialled across 70 sites within the Kent Route throughout 2020/2021, with a period of monitoring undertaken to Spring 2024 in order to provide comprehensive results of the trials. Each trial site covers approximately a 200m long section of track and contains two different management techniques. The track’s 0–7m area will trial one technique, whilst the 7m+ area will trial an alternative. This differentiation is necessary for control purposes, but also ensure safety and compliance with guidelines.

Overall, we’re aiming to find out from the Pilot:

  • Which techniques have the most beneficial impact on the biodiversity and ecological health of the site?
  • What are the costs associated with the implementation and maintenance of the different management strategies?
  • What techniques can our teams most efficiently utilise across varying landscapes?

The lineside tree and vegetation management techniques being trialled are:

  • Enhance existing woodland including coppicing, pollarding and retention of specimen trees
  • Enhance existing scrub including hedgerows
  • Transform existing scrub to grassland or woodland
  • Enhance existing grassland
  • Transform existing grassland to scrub or woodland
  • Enhance existing wetland
  • Conserve existing habitat
  • Enhance brownfield by using ballast spill to sow grasses / wildflowers.

Whilst these management techniques are aimed at enhancing biodiversity on site, they may initially show a decline due to the implementation process. Wildlife may retreat from the area as the technique is put in place and alters the habitat structure. However, as the site’s reformed vegetation structure develops, it will encourage a greater variety of wildlife, plant and animal species than were originally present. This highlights the longevity of the Kent Habitat Management Pilot project, and the importance of trialling these lineside vegetation management techniques, so we can evaluate the results and successfully apply our findings to both the wider Southern Region and nationally.

Background on Why We’re Undertaking the Pilot

Following John Varley’s 2018 report on the review of Network Rail’s vegetation management practices, six recommendations were produced that, if implemented, would improve Network Rail’s management of its lineside estate. In response, investment was made into a pilot habitat management project within the Kent Route, aiming to trial and evaluate the success of various lineside vegetation management techniques in maximising the enhancement of biodiversity in cohesion with a safely operational railway.

For further information on the Pilot, please contact:

Sarah Borien – Head of Environment and Sustainability for the Southern Region

Sean Harris – Project Manager for the Kent Pilot

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