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TBS in The Times – Meet the tree-huggers investing in a private woodland

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Knight Frank
London and Country specialist property buying agents
20 Jan 2021  |   Mark Lawson

Mark Lawson, Partner at The Buying Solution says;

The woodland markets,  both commercial and amenity, are really increasing in popularity – amenity woodland is a reasonably cheap way of buying a piece of real countryside. People use their woodland for various activities such as camping, picnics, wildlife watching and preservation and of course sporting, and they can often provide a private enclave close to the main property. Importantly the land itself is easy to manage, there’s no need to regularly plant and unlike farmland no need to harvest annually.  The added benefit is that the value can increase as the trees grow, but investment value isn’t usually why people purchase amenity woodland.

Larger, more commercial areas of woodland, have tax advantages – owners can get Business Property Relief and growing timber is free from Capital Gains Tax.

The woodland market generally has seen significant increases in value in the last 2/3 years; the smaller blocks because of increased interest for leisure purposes, the more commercial blocks because of carbon capture advantages and more use of timber products as people and businesses become more environmentally aware , using natural products rather than man-made e.g the construction industry and increased use of cardboard.

When it comes to pricing, woodland can range from anything from £5k/acre to £8k/acre for commercial woodland depending on type and age, but for smaller amenity blocks, say 2-20 acres , it is more expensive,  anything from £8-20k/acre depending on location, type and condition.

There are a few points to take into consideration when purchasing woodland;

  • Do you want deciduous or conifer? I.e. Broadleaved which are prettier but shed their leaves or conifer which are evergreen and grow quicker but are not so pretty. Both attract different wildlife.
  • Check there are no diseases affecting the trees , there are lots including for example,  Canker in Horse Chestnuts, Ash die back in Ash etc, the trees may look healthy at certain times of year but sick at others.
  • You need to be aware of any conditions affecting growth of the trees, eg soil type etc.
  • You need to consider any commitments a new owner may have to comply with if there are existing grants in place, this can be expensive and complex for a non expert.
  • You have a responsibility for Public safety, if your tree falls on someone you are responsible , so you need to consider Public Liability insurance and we always recommend a regular tree survey to check on unhealthy trees,  limbs/branches.
  • Likewise you have responsibility if any or your trees are overhanging a road or public right of way.

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