The Lakes was recognised by the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) for the wide benefits their innovative tree schemes have brought to the natural environment.
Tree plantings encouraged hens to roam
Their case study highlighted that more than 150,000 trees had been planted over 600 acres of hen ranges, encouraging free-range birds to roam further. It has led to the return of a range of endangered species such as Pipistrelle bats, Barn owls and red squirrels.
At present, the company is 3 years into a 5 year extended ecological survey from the Woodland Trust, which is being run by the Cumbria Farm Environment Partnership.
Scheme not without challenges for hens
Owners David and Helen Brass said the collaborative nature of the partnership was really working.
“Tree planting schemes on the free-range hens ranges have presented some unique challenges, not least because of the strong foraging instinct and general curiosity of hens.”
Benefits for free-range egg producers
Mr Brass said as well as better animal welfare there were practical benefits for free-range egg producers from planting trees, including:
- Reduction in ammonia emissions and particulates
- Lower nutrient run-off from the hen ranges
- Greater protection of water quality in nearby streams and rivers
Farm environmental adviser Paul Arkle praised the owners David and Helen Brass for their work in enriching the landscape and at the same time improving animal welfare.
“This Woodland Trust survey is also possible because of the long-term working relationship our advisors have with the Lakes and their producers and results so far are very promising.”
Independent audits have highlighted 28 different types of bird species with 6 on the red list of endangered species.
“Determining the biodiversity value of planting and developing ranges highlights the sustainability of benefits and others are following in their footsteps.”
Presenting the Corporate Achievement award, Baroness Young – former head of the Environment Agency and Woodland Trust chair – also highlighted the benefits that trees bring to the environment.