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Planting Trees for Animals

Spring is finally here and a very wet and windy winter will soon be just a memory. But as trees start to blossom, it’s not just green-fingered enthusiasts who are eager to get busy planting trees.

We’re all aware of the environmental benefits of trees and how vital they are for the planet, but did you know they also provide essential shade and shelter for farmed animals?

Planting trees is an essential element of preventing climate change is vital. When trees are planted outside of traditional woodland areas they help our land to regenerate naturally and create vital habitats as well as corridors for wildlife, allowing it to spread across the landscape.

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now." 

 - Chinese Proverb

Why are Trees so Important?

Trees affect our quality of life more than many of us realise. While in urban environments, they are used to bring some much-needed colour and contrast to our grey streets on farms they can enhance the environment in other, less obvious, ways.

As natural air filters, trees reduce greenhouse gases by trapping impurities on their leaves, and branches and removing carbon dioxide. In addition, recent research has shown that trees also help reduce the stress of modern life.

As well as the environmental benefit of trees, they are also an integral part of the farm ecosystem and provide benefits to wildlife and biodiversity. Trees, especially older trees, provide habitats for native ground flora such as bluebells and fauna, particularly bats, red squirrels and invertebrates.

The Next Generation of Tree Planters

Last month, our education team shared this inspiring picture with us. After reading about the Benefits of Planting Trees for Chickens in our RSPCA Education Resources, this young person decided to take the environment into her own hands. So, headed out to her parents’ hen farm and got digging.

What may seem a small step today can have far-reaching benefits for the future, for the environment, and for farmed animals too!

Encouraging Tree Planting on Farms

We would love to see more people, old and young, planting trees, both on farms and in their gardens. And hopefully, the little girl in the photo will plant many more trees in her lifetime.

RSPCA Assured is a non-profit animal welfare-focused assurance scheme. This means that our member farmers and those involved in producing eggs, fish, meat and dairy sign up and agree to care for their animals, from birth to slaughter, in line with the RSPCA’s comprehensive higher welfare standards.

To help our members provide a comfortable and enriched environment for animals on their farms, we work with our members to encourage them to plant trees. Our mission is to help all farmed animals live better lives, this includes allowing them to express their natural behaviours and providing them with a rich and engaging environment.

Trees as Environmental Enrichment for Animals

RSPCA welfare standards for terrestrial animals state they must have ‘enrichment’ in their surroundings such as mentally and physically stimulating items, and trees are a great example of this.

The standards say that free-range egg-laying hens must have natural cover and enrichment. Natural cover must be present either as trees, shrubs or canopy-forming plants.

Hens are intelligent and naturally curious animals that like to explore their environment. Trees have been shown to help hens feel confident to range further afield.

Government Incentive to Plant More Trees

The government is now encouraging farmers to plant more trees on their farmland, whether it’s one or one hundred, every tree makes a difference. At RSPCA Assured, we support our member farmers and encourage them to plant trees on their farms to provide a higher welfare environment for their farmed animals.

Five Ways Trees Help Farmers And Farmed Animals


The Animals Feel Safe
Trees can help wild and farmed animals feel safer and more comfortable in their environment. They provide cover, places for hens and turkeys to perch and scratching posts for sheep and cattle.
Improved Biodiversity and Wildlife Habitats
Trees are ideal for nesting birds, small mammals making homes in the roots, bats setting up home in their trunks and hundreds of species of insects too (great for hen foraging!)
Shade and Shelter
Trees provide shade and help to reduce heat stress, and when it’s cold and windy they offer a place to take shelter.
Prevent Flooding
Trees reduce wind speed and intercept rain in heavy downpours which can help prevent flooding.
Reduce Soil Erosion
By sheltering seedlings, trees help the grass to grow.


About the author

Jodie - Website Manager

Jodie is RSPCA Assured's Website Manager. 

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