The forestry market has seen a record-breaking year, with average values more than double what they were three years ago and the total value of the forestry investment market reaching a new high, according to the latest UK Forest Market Report.

The annual report, produced by Tilhill and John Clegg & Co, is now in its 23rd year and is regarded as the most comprehensive publicly available record of forestry transactions in the UK.

This year it highlights that the sector is attracting unprecedented levels of interest from commercial forestry buyers and financial institutions.

Some are experienced forestry investors, but others are new market entrants with multiple objectives – part financial and part related to Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) considerations or natural capital outcomes.

The report shows that in 2021 a total of £200.4 million of forestry properties were traded, making it another record year for the sector.

This year it includes a new section on the market for planting land, which shows an additional £53m worth of land suitable for afforestation transacted, plus £26 million worth of natural capital land.

Key findings of the report include:

  • 21% increase in forestry values from just under £16,000 per stocked hectare in 2020 to £19,300 per stocked hectare in 2021. However, the spread in prices paid is wide, with significant geographic and quality variations;
  • The total value of the forestry market was £200.40m in 2021 (just over the £200.18m in 2020), with 70 planting land deals also struck worth £53 million;
  • 10,400ha (gross) of forestry traded in 2021 (67 forests), compared with 12,500ha in 2020;
  • Decrease in average size of a property sold from 206ha in 2020 to 155ha this year;
  • Scotland provided largest share of commercial forest market at 76% by value.

Peter Chappell, head of forestry investment, Tilhill said:

“It is an exciting time to be in the forestry sector.

“The positive long-term outlook for timber values has buoyed confidence in how commercial forests can perform as an investment and the wider benefits of trees and woodland to society and the environment are being increasingly recognised.

“The growth in the value of an average stocked hectare has continued unabated, rising 21% this year. This means over the past three years, values have risen from £9,300 in 2018 to £19,300 in 2021.

“The report also highlights how the trend of younger forests achieving the highest unit values has continued into 2021.

This shows investor confidence in timber values, and the fact that younger, second-rotation forests tend to be characterised by high yielding, improved varieties of Sitka spruce, with proven timber extraction and a developed infrastructure.

“There is also some evidence that larger forests over 100ha are now attracting the highest per hectare values as an increasingly competitive market develops for high value deals.”