The new policy to convert forests to 'open habitat' will increase the area of heathland across England by 1,000 hectares (2,470 acres) every year for at least the next five years.
This will mean chopping down thousands of hectares of mostly commercial conifers to allow rare animals like sand lizards, adder, woodlark and curlew to return.
It is estimated that 80 per cent of lowland heathland has been lost in the past 200 years to plantation forestry, agriculture and housing development.
The Department for the Environment and Forestry Commission policy for 'Restoration of Open Habitats from Woods and Forests' is designed to return much of the land taken by commercial forestry to wildlife.
Huw Irranca-Davies, Minister for the Natural and Marine Environment, said 'woodland removal' will be balanced by planting trees elsewhere and communities will be consulted.