If you go down to the woods, you're sure of a big return

More and more investors are putting their cash into buying forests rather than bricks and mortar

A A A

While the property market might be stagnating, woodland prices have seen a 20 per cent rise over the past 18 months, encouraging more people to buy a copse and watch their investment grow.

Mistrust of banks and an increased interest in generating fuel have combined with the greater attention given to trees since the sell-off of 635,000 acres of Forestry Commission land was abandoned.

Mike Tustin, a chartered forester for John Clegg & Co, said: "This heightened awareness has increased demand for woodland, leading indirectly to higher prices. Increased interest in sustaina-bility is also pushing people in the direction of producing their own fuel, so woodlands are seen as a way of owning your own fuel reserve – especially as oil and gas prices can only rise."

Katherine Klinger, 53, a property manager with a nine-year-old son, bought her first piece of woodland on eBay 18 months ago: two acres in Hertfordshire for just under £30,000.

"I was very taken with the romance of the idea, and having a wonderful time: camping, lighting fires and whittling wood," she said. "As much as I might have wanted to own a cottage with land, woodland is a tenth of the price. I realised I could take the camper van and have all the space I could dream of. And then I realised the investment potential."

She has bought a second patch of woodland on the Surrey-Hampshire border, just under 20 acres for £120,000. "This is the investment buy," she said.

With timber prices expected to double again over the next five years, commercial woodland is having its greatest spurt in interest since the Thatcher government introduced incentives in the 1980s allowing investments to be written off against tax. This encouraged celebrity investors, such as Sir Cliff Richard, Phil Collins and Sir Terry Wogan, to create pine forests in Scotland.

Although that tax loophole no longer exists, commercially managed woodland is still exempt from income tax and inheritance tax, once it has been owned for more than two years.

Mr Tustin said: "In Scotland, we have seen very large woodlands changing hands for prices 10 to 30 per cent higher than the guide price. Smaller woodland prices range between £5,000 and £7,000 an acre in the south of England. A year ago, these woods would have been selling for around £3,000 to £4,500 an acre at the most."

Jason Sinden, a woodland investment manager at the forestry company UPM Tilhill, has seen prices rise by an average of 17 per cent a year over the past five years – but warns these may have peaked.

John Tunnicliffe, head of Woodland Bond, which sells segments of managed woodland, said prices have risen in the order of 50 per cent over the past three years. "The popularity has increased incredibly – I think because people are looking for secure places to put their money. There's insecurity in the financial sector and people are looking for safe havens."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker