Woodland valuations are often inaccurate due to a lack of understanding of the complexities involved.

According to Louise Alexander, one of the lead foresters at property consultancy Galbraith, valuations of existing forestry and bare planting land are far more complex than may be envisaged by new entrants to the sector:

“The popularity of forestry as an investment is growing, and therefore accurate valuations are more important than ever to support this burgeoning industry and give purchasers comfort in their acquisitions. Commercial forestry transactions worth £126.5m were completed in the past year and Scotland saw the largest share of forestry market transactions – 78% of forestry sales were in Scotland.

“There are a range of issues which affect the valuation of a woodland and only an experienced valuer will be able to understand the relationships between these and their relative importance," she stressed. "The location of the woodland, in terms of its potential value, is relatively well understood, with huge variation between plantation values from South to North. However, there are many other factors in addition to the location which are of critical importance to the potential to generate an income from timber.

“The type of soil, topography and tree species will have a major impact. In Scotland the strongest market demand from timber mills tends to be for Sitka spruce. However, with pests and diseases in mind, it is sensible to maintain a degree of diversity in a woodland and therefore planting other species alongside can be advantageous," she advised.

“The practical and logistical issues in terms of access to the timber are very important; the grant income available, the tax advantages of commercial forestry and the potential to trade carbon units under the Woodland Carbon Code are all complex issues which have a significant impact on the ultimate value of a woodland.

“We have recently sold bare planting land for between £1500 and £7000 per hectare, showing the very high values – and the wide variation in values – in today’s market," she reported. "Average per hectare prices for land with standing timber have risen by 23% year on year in the UK. Those seeking to acquire bare land or an existing woodland should take advice from an expert before proceeding with a purchase.”