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P&J Business Breakfast speaker David Robertson of Scottish Woodlands says ‘forestry and timber security is priority’

David Robertson, Scottish Woodlands investment and business development director, speaker at the P&J Business Breakfast event.
David Robertson, Scottish Woodlands investment and business development director, speaker at the P&J Business Breakfast event.

Investment opportunities through forestry in Scotland are the hot topic under the spotlight in the fourth The Press and Journal Business Breakfast of 2021.

Joining our expert panel for the virtual event – Seeing the Forest for the Trees – is David Robertson, investment and business development director at Scottish Woodlands.

Mr Robertson works daily with professional advisors, agents and a variety of other partners to find, place and secure a range of forestry and land subjects on behalf of private, corporate and institutional clients.

With more than 30 years of experience in the industry, including 25 in management roles throughout Scotland, he applies his practical knowledge of the forest industry and the backing of a network of local forest managers to make sure investors get the best results to meet their overall objectives.

Forestry investment holds it own

His day-to-day role sees him engaging with all kinds of businesses across the country, and for Mr Robertson it’s extremely encouraging to see inquiries on the increase.

He said: “There’s hardly a day goes past when we don’t have a relatively significant inquiry from somebody who is interested in offsetting their carbon emissions.

“We are talking about probably medium to large-scale Scottish companies.”

He added: “We’ve been involved with some large business in the north-east and Moray looking at forest planting as part of their carbon balance.

“It’s brought an interesting investment angle. There’s no doubt forestry investment stands up very well on its own, even without the carbon angle.”

“Returns from timber investments have been very strong over the last 25 years but the carbon angle is definitely something people are looking at very strongly.”

An area of Scots pine forest (originally planted 1927), which is part of a mixed-age, mixed-species forest near Dunphail, Moray.

Increased timber security a priority

Mr Robertson believes forestry and timber security is very much a priority moving forward.

He said: “We need forestry and timber security now very much the same way we did when the forestry commission was set up in 1919.

“It was set up to ensure we had timber supplies in the UK in the event of war, in effect.

We are very much in a global market in the world of timber today.

“A demand in certain parts of the world can very quickly mean the timber that comes into the UK, due to a change in policy somewhere, can get diverted and go somewhere else.

We need to be pushing for greater planting figures and numbers to reduce the impact of those potential problems.”

“We’ve seen that happening this year, with a huge timber demand in the states because of extremely high lumber prices there.”

Timber that would normally have come into the UK has, therefore, gone to the US instead, he said, adding: “That created shortages here which was good for the home grown timber suppliers, because prices spiked, but not great for long term timber security in the UK.

Piles of timber at Inverness Harbour.

“We need to be pushing for greater planting figures and numbers to reduce the impact of those potential problems.”

Scottish Woodlands is a leading forestry management company with a long tradition of serving forest owners and investors in Scotland and the rest of the UK.

Originally established as a woodland owner’s co-operative, its history can be traced back more than 75 years.

The Press and Journal Business Breakfast, being held in association with Turcan Connell, is a free virtual event.

Chaired by P&J deputy business editor Keith Findlay, it runs on Friday September 24 from 8-9am.

To register for free, visit www.pandjbreakfast.co.uk

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