New forestry market research reveals best period for forestry expansion since the 1980s'

22 March 2017

More than 18,300 hectares of forestry were sold across Britain last year at a cumulative value of just under £83M in another strong transactional year for the forestry sector. 

Although the average price per hectare across the whole market dropped slightly from 2015 levels, this  was due to significant changes in the market share by region, with nearly 80% of all property sold north of the Forth-Clyde canal.   Demand for UK grown timber improved over the year with the prospect of further rises as ambitious new build and low carbon targets filter through, which will give the domestic timber industry a boost. Meanwhile both UK and Scottish Governments have ambitious tree planting targets, supported by attractive grant packages providing clear opportunities for investors to create new productive forests.

These are among the findings of new research by Savills and Scottish Woodlands. Speaking at the launch of their joint report, Spotlight on the UK Forestry Market, James Adamson, Savills Head of Forestry Investment UK said:  "Investors are increasingly seeking multi-purpose investments, ones that hedge against uncertainty and provide a long term home for capital.  Although UK timber markets will fluctuate from year-to-year,  the prospect of a longer term upward trend in timber pricing structures is very real, making us confident in the future of forestry as an asset.  The UK forestry market has  continued to demonstrate strong performance and remains a highly desirable alternative asset class.

"High-yield class, well-managed commercial spruce forests with good access to timber markets will remain in strong demand, and offer an excellent long term investment option. Looking towards a post-Brexit-world, a revision of EU timber trade regulations could enable UK forest products to be used more widely in construction.  Our research suggests plantation values will rise over the medium term, albeit at a slightly slower pace and we forecast 32% growth in forest values over the next five years, with scope for further growth if timber prices rise above expectation".

David Robertson, Investment & Business Development Manager at Scottish Woodlands said:  "Government policy is increasingly focussed on the benefit of woodland.  The Scottish Parliament has increased its tree planting target from 22 million to 33 million trees per year by 2025, this equates to a rise from 10,000 to 15,000 hectares of forestry land, with grant funding bolstered from £36 to £40 million in 2017/18.  In addition a £19 million Carbon Woodland Fund has been announced  in England aimed at increasing planting of woodlands to contribute to the Westminster target of 11 million trees in the lifetime of the 2015-20 parliament.   In summary, we are potentially witnessing the best period for forestry expansion since the 1970s and 80s, supported by Government policy on both sides of the border".

Other key findings include:

- One of the most buoyant market sectors in 2016 was the purchase of agricultural land for new  woodland creation, driven in part by a shortage of quality stocked woodland property on the market.

- The proportion of forestry sold in North Scotland during 2016 doubled compared to 2015. This increase relates to two large sales; The Barracks and Strathmore Forests which at a total of 7,246 hectares made up  40% of the wider UK market.

- In South Scotland the proportion of forestry sold during 2016 fell significantly, both on the year and against the medium term average of 33%.

- Investors are increasingly seeking multi-purpose investments, that hedge against uncertainty and provide a long term home for capital.  Forests provide an ideal vehicle for this, combining the benefits of land acquisition with the profitability of producing a valuable commodity.


General Enquiries



Key Contacts

James Adamson

James Adamson

Head of Forestry Investment UK
Rural, Energy & Projects


+44 (0) 1738 477 510


Beth Hocking

Beth Hocking

Regional PR manager (Scotland)
Press Office


+44 (0) 131 247 3739