Sites of ancient woodland in the United Kingdom (UK) are diminishing rapidly and the multifunctional forest management system with its fragmented approach fails effectively to protect such woodland. In the face of reports on the destruction of ancient woodland, the HS2 High-Speed train project in the UK signifies the extent of trade-offs among the key stakeholders. Such large infrastructure projects typically come with high environmental and social costs, including deforestation, habitat fragmentation, biodiversity loss, and social disruption. This article examines the protection of ancient woodland in the UK and assesses the challenges in applying the ecosystem approach, an internationally recognized sustainability strategy, in the context of such protection. A better understanding of the ecosystem approach to manage ancient woodland is critical for promoting sustainable forestry practices in the UK and informs the discussion in this article of the importance of conserving ancient woodland globally. Lessons learned from UK woodland policies and certification schemes include the need to have in place strong regulatory frameworks, introduce clear indicators, and recognize pluralistic value systems alongside economic considerations. The article concludes that the protection of ancient woodland in the UK requires distinct and strong laws that reflect multiple values of this resource, acknowledge the trade-offs among stakeholders, and adopt an inclusive approach to reduce power asymmetries.