Future global demand, strong government support and an overarching demand for low carbon all make it an excellent time to invest in tree planting.
It was all covered in The Press and Journal Business Breakfast yesterday (September 24).
The audience at the virtual event, which was held in association with law firm Turcan Connell and supported by Scottish Woodlands, heard from a trio of experts who each gave their insight into forestry investment opportunities.
David Robertson, investment and business development director for Scottish Woodlands, was the first speaker up.
He was followed by Don Macleod, partner in the land and property department at Turcan Connell.
Last up was Jason Baggaley, fund manager for Standard Life Investments Property Income Trust and deputy head of real estate value add at Aberdeen Standard Investments, part of financial services giant abrdn.
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.
Timber is a must
Outlining the importance of global factors, he said: “We need timber security now in very much the same way we did when the Forestry Commission was first set up in 1919.
“We are currently the world’s second largest net importer of forest products behind China, with a trade deficit of £8.2 billion in timber products alone. That’s importing 32 million of tonnes of timber into the UK.
“When we take into account the EU estimate that between 20 and 40% of all global timber is illegally logged, then in the UK we could inadvertently be utilising over five million tonnes of illegally harvested timber per year.
“That’s something we certainly needs to keep an eye on.”
No fears of taxation
Mr Macleod gave his insight into trends facing investors and landowners when it comes to the regulation of the market and the UK’s taxation approach.
He said: “The industry has extremely strong political support in Scotland which for a number of our clients who are involved in the sector in different ways is very reassuring.”
“The question we are often asked is if it is too good to be true? Is the government going to look at it again and will forestry become taxed?
“There really isn’t any speculation that forestry is about to become taxed.”
Mr Baggaley has more than 30 years’ experience in real estate fund management.
He said: “I see us on the the beginning of a journey where we are learning a lot.
“Five years ago we weren’t talking about carbon, net-zero or sequestration – but now it is everyday language.
“It’s involved in every decision we make.”
“The offsetting and forestry to us is the last resort. What we are interested in is reducing the amount of carbon within the fund.
“But it’s not a one-way street. The route to net-zero will be expensive.”
The live event was recorded and can be watched in its entirety at www.pandjbusinessbreakfast.co.uk