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Forestry


Bigger role for trees in boosting farm incomes


• Woodland is attractive to investors • Trees contribute to Net Zero targets • Politicians want more trees planted


R


ising timber prices and environmental benefits mean planting woodland could provide farmers with an op- portunity to boost their income, says a report.


Planting trees can help off- set carbon emissions – and has a potentially large role to play in meeting the UK’s net zero tar- get, says the Savills UK Forest- ry Spotlight. Woodland carbon se- questration could also prove an important source of revenue for land managers, it adds. Ethical investors see forest-


ry as an increasingly attractive proposition, said Gi D’Angibau, who leads the rural team at Sav- ills, Chelmsford, Essex. Farmers and landowners could reap the benefits of planting woodland, she suggests.


At the same time, the gov- ernment looks set to encourage tree-planting on a wider scale.


Pledges to increase woodland cre- ation were included in many po- litical party manifestoes last year – although more detail is needed on how additional planting would be achieved.


Clear benefits “For commercial forestry, the sus- tainability arguments are clear,” said Ms D’Angibau. “We are pro- ducing a natural commodity in timber, which, if used in a sus- tainable way, locks up the carbon sequestered through the growth of trees.” With a rising global popula-


tion putting an increasing strain on natural forests around the world, woodland and forestry





For commercial forestry, the sustainability arguments are clear


vironmentally beneficial.” According to the Savills report, while interest from new buyers was a feature of last year’s mar- ket, some recent trends contin- ued. These include low supply, strong competition and reason- able timber prices, as well as ris- ing asset values across all regions.


Investment market


The UK forestry investment market was worth just over over £121m during the year ending 30 September 2019. This represents a 2% reduction in overall sales value compared to 2018, accord- ing to the Savills report. Analysis of the 2019 sales data shows the average gross value of UK forestry increased by 17% to £9,900/ha, says the report. This translates to an increase of 25% to £13,100 per net productive hectare.


Trees are good for business and the environment, says Gi D’Angibau.


plantations will be required to de- liver a greater proportion of tim- ber and wood products in the UK and overseas.


Ms D’Angibau said: “Certifica- tion standards ensure there is a place for biodiversity and conser- vation in even the most commer- cially managed forests, meaning they are both sustainable and en-


“Due to the drop off in forest planting in the 1990s, even aged properties are now rare and re- structured properties with a wide age range of mature and imma- ture timber are now the market norm,” said Ms D’Angibau. “Prices combine both the im- mediate value realisable from felling age timber and the ex- pectation value that younger trees have. This allows inves- tors to take a positive approach to pricing, with an opportunity for a phased income rather than just at the point of sale.”


A new investment fund is looking to buy farmland suitable for tree planting. The True North European Real Estate


Investors seek farmland for forestry creation Each planting scheme will be individual-


Partners fund says it wants to work with farmers and landowners looking to release capital by selling small or large areas of ar- able land suited to conversion to forestry. The institutionally backed Forestry Car- bon Sequestration Fund has raised an initial £30 million equity target with Willis Tow- ers Watson, for investment in suitable land, with further funding potentially available. Fund managers say they are open to pri-


vate, off-market deals, with land valuations carried out by an independent profession- al valuer and acquisitions paid for at mar- ket value.


ly designed and managed by a professional forestry team, with both amenity and eco- logical objectives taken into account, along- side the main objective of quality timber production.


Release capital True North fund manager James Jackson said: “We are in the process of identifying farmland suitable for tree planting, provid- ing farmers and landowners with the op- portunity to release capital from suitable land sales. “This might allow for restructuring of an existing business, provide the opportu- nity to expand or introduce new enterpris-


es through diversification, or provide the means by which to downsize or retire. Any plantation would be sensitively de-


signed, said Mr Jackson. Rather than the monoculture sitka spruce of the past, it would be right for the area in which it was situated, with local stakeholders consulted. Ongoing management by a professional forestry team would nurture any plantation to maximise both its timber crop yield and the associated carbon sequestration, add- ed Mr Jackson.


It would also reduce reliance on im-


ports. “We are seeking to deliver premi- um timber that will have long term use in construction that will lock up carbon be- yond harvest.”


SEPTEMBER 2020 • ANGLIA FARMER 41


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