Forestry – A lesser-known way to keep your wealth in the family

Archived article

Archived article: please remember tax and investment rules and circumstances can change over time. This article reflects our views at the time of publication.

Forestry provides a relatively simple and very tangible investment – and offers valuable tax reliefs. This includes no income or capital gains tax, and 100% inheritance tax relief (bear in mind, tax rules can change, and benefits depend on circumstances).

And whilst the past is no guide to the future, forestry has to date delivered strong long-term performance – typically better than and largely uncorrelated to other asset classes. 

Not surprisingly, institutional investors – from pension funds to family offices and even the Church of England – have been investing in forestry for years. Experienced private investors are increasingly drawn to it, too.

Forestry factsheet border

How do forestry investments work?

The principle is simple: you invest in commercial forests for the long term. The trees – predominantly Sitka Spruce, a hardy fast-growing conifer well suited to Britain’s climate – sit on the hillside and grow. As they do so, you should benefit from capital appreciation in the value of the trees and the land they are on, and from any income produced by harvesting the trees and selling the timber – the main part of a tree being used for construction or making paper and cardboard, while the offcuts, twigs and chippings used for biomass.

Investment in forestry is a long-term commitment – possibly 10 years or more – and a forest is by its nature a very illiquid asset. But if you’re comfortable with that, it can have significant tax benefits (see below), and once established requires comparatively little upkeep. Meanwhile, it also performs a crucial role in carbon capture and helping to achieve UK environmental sustainability targets.

Why consider investing in forestry? What are the benefits and risks, and what could forestry add to an experienced investor’s portfolio? 

Watch this short video interview with two respected forestry investment managers to find out more.

Recorded in September 2018

Important: The information on this website is for experienced investors. It is not advice nor a research or personal recommendation to invest. If you’re unsure, please seek advice. Investments are for the long term. They are high risk and illiquid and can fall as well as rise in value, so you could get back less than you invest. Whilst Wealth Club and the forestry fund managers are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, the investment in forestry itself is unregulated, so you do not have the usual investor protections, including recourse to the UK Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

Request more information on forestry – no obligation

Excellent performance track record

According to the most recent available data, forestry has been the best-performing UK asset class over a period of one, five, 10 and 25 years to December 2021 – producing cumulative annualised returns ranging from 12% (over 25 years) to 33.3% (during 2021). Moreover, forestry has historically been a resilient asset class, and broadly uncorrelated to other main asset classes. Please remember, past performance is not a guide to the future.

Discrete annual performance to 31 December of each year

2021 2020 2019 2018 2017
UK Forestry 33.3% 33.3% 15.6% 15.6% 13.9%
IA UK Equity Income 16.6% -11.4% 20.6% -10.5% 11.5%
IA UK All Companies 15.5% -6.8% 23.1% -11.2% 14.1%
IA £ Corporate Bonds -1.7% 7.8% 9.4% -2.2% 5.2%
IA Gilts -4.7% 8.7% 6.9% -0.1% 1.7%
IA UK Direct Property 7.1% -4.1% -0.8% 2.9% 7.6%

Source: Gresham House, Morningstar, to 31 December 2021. Please remember, returns are not guaranteed and past performance is not a guide to the future. Returns for UK forestry have been calculated using the IPD forestry index from December 1995 to its discontinuation in December 2017. There is no suitable replacement index. Gresham House, as the leading forestry asset manager, has supplied return data for 2017 to 2021 based on independent valuations of its managed portfolios. The IA UK Direct Property sector does not have a 25-year track record.

Typical tax benefits of forestry investments

Investment in UK commercial forestry could have significant tax benefits: 

  • Inheritance tax: 100% IHT relief after two years due to Business Property Relief, provided you still hold the investment on death 
  • Income tax: there should be no liability to income tax on timber revenue 
  • Capital gains tax: there should be no CGT due on any gain made on the value of the timber. The underlying land is subject to CGT although most of the gain would be in the value of the timber

Please remember tax benefits depend on circumstances and tax rules can change.

How might you invest in forestry?

You could buy and manage a forest yourself – this could set you back at least £1 million. A popular alternative is to invest through a forestry fund: for a much smaller outlay, you could buy into a large and diversified forestry portfolio run by a professional manager.

Next steps

Before sending you details on any current forestry deal we are required to check if you are eligible. If you are interested, please request more information by completing the above form and we'll be in touch with next steps.

Sponsored by Octopus Investments

Wealth Club aims to make it easier for experienced investors to find information on – and apply for – investments. You should base your investment decision on the offer documents and ensure you have read and fully understand them before investing. The information on this webpage is a marketing communication. It is not advice or a personal or research recommendation to buy any of the investments mentioned, nor does it include any opinion as to the present or future value or price of these investments. It does not satisfy legal requirements promoting investment research independence and is thus not subject to prohibitions on dealing ahead of its dissemination.