Communities secretary Sajid Javid will tomorrow lay out plans that will put some of the UK’s forests on par with green belt land.
The Woodland Trust had raised concerns that more than 700 ancient woods are threatened by development ranging from housing to quarries and infrastructure.
A Department of Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “Ancient woodland is a cherished part of our countryside and we already have legal protections for these irreplaceable habitats.
“We’re clear that building on ancient woodland should be avoided and so will be strengthening the rules to increase the protection for these areas in the forthcoming housing white paper.”
The government will amend planning rules to make clear that building on such land in England should be restricted when it comes to applications for development.
It will come as part of Javid's big launch of housing plans on Tuesday, which is also expected to include offerings to support those looking to rent a home.