WELCOME TO GRESHAM HOUSE FORESTRY

AN INVESTMENT STRATEGY OF GRESHAM HOUSE

About Us

UK commercial forestry is a highly tax efficient sustainable real asset that diversifies an investment portfolio and provides exposure to timber prices, which are forecast to rise.

We believe that forestry investment offers attractive long-term returns through a combination of our forestry asset management expertise with the robust underlying characteristics of the asset class.

Gresham House now manages over 100,000 hectares of forests on behalf of institutions, endowments, family offices and private investors and is now the UK’s largest commercial forestry manager, harvesting circa 10% of the UK’s total softwood.

Why Invest in Forestry?

Weston Green Consulting 2015 The Future of Forestry – The Local Impact of Global trends Presentation

Forestry investing is not new – many people think of David Swensen at the Yale Endowment when the topic comes up. Others will go further back to Otto von Bismarck and his banker Gerson von Bleichroder in 19th century Germany.

The characteristics these influential predecessors recognised in forestry as an alternative asset class are the same characteristics that still exist today – a real asset that grows organically, produces income, gives inflation protection and does not correlate with financial assets.

Biological Growth

Regardless of what GDP or the stock or bond markets are doing, trees will grow and the volume of timber that is standing in the forest available for sale will increase every year.

Inflation Hedge

Forests are real assets and historically pricing correlates positively with inflation. For those worried about deflation, the available history suggests that, as with other real assets, they have outperformed financial investments in deflationary times.

 

What are the benefits of investing in Forestry

Tax Benefits

There are several tax benefits associated with investing in Forestry:

  • Tax free income – Proceeds from UK timber sales are tax-free whether the asset is held personally or by a company
  • Tax free capital gains – Increase in value of standing timber is exempt from capital gains tax (excluding increase in underlying land values)
  • Capital gains roll-over – Proceeds from the sale of capital assets can be reinvested in UK commercial forestry land to defer the capital gains
  • No Inheritance tax – Qualifies for business property relief after two years of ownership

Income

Forests produce healthy but lumpy and irregular cash flows, largely from timber sales. A diversified portfolio of mixed ages of trees can produce the income profile to smooth the peaks and troughs from individual forests.

Environmental credentials

Trees sequester carbon – the faster they grow, the more carbon they absorb. Planting trees is considered to be a viable solution to reducing the effects of climate change. The end timber product is substantially less energy intensive to produce than other building materials or energy sources.

Growing demand for timber

Growth in emerging markets, increasing use in the construction sector globally, and increasing biomass power usage have all contributed to a significant upwards trend in demand for timber over the last 50 years. That demand growth rate is forecast to accelerate over the coming years.

The Opportunity

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There is growing interest globally in the opportunity that investing in forestry can provide. These include:

  • Forestry offers better returns than the low rates associated with certain other forms of investing
    Forcing a search for alternative sources of income
  • Forestry is a real asset
    Defensive in periods of inflation and deflation
  • Uncorrelated with major asset classes with lower volatility
    Providing portfolio diversification
  • ESG credentials
    Carbon capture, sustainable industry, improves air quality, flood defence, habitat creation
  • Growing demand
    Emerging market growth, Biomass power usage, increased usage in construction and
    packaging
  • Established asset class
    Top 30 US TIMOs manage $57bn of timber assets (source: www.realassets.ipe.com), US Endowment allocation to natural resources: Yale 8.5%, Harvard 11%, Stanford 10%

The Investment Opportunity

Forestry offers Unique Return Drivers…

  • Organic growth
    Our tree crops typically grow in volume by 4.0-5.0% per annum*
  • Value growth
    Timber increases in value with age
  • Impact of timber prices
    Generates tax free income or value ‘stored on the stump’
  • Impact of land values
    Positive supply and demand dynamics
  • Higher and Better Use (HBU)
    Enhancing returns from alternative land use opportunities; wind farms, hydro-electric power, biomass, property development, telecom infrastructure, mineral extraction, sporting rights

*Based on Gresham House Forestry’s calculations, which assume Sitka spruce, yield class 18

 

Source: MSCI, JP Morgan, Forestry Commission IPD UK Annual Property & Forestry Indices. Annualised rates, Total Return as at 31 December 2017. *IPD UK Forestry Index created in 1992 – 25 years ago.

Investment focus and selection criteria

Our investment focus and selection criteria:

  • Diverse portfolio of high quality forests in the UK
  • Investment focus will be in Scotland and other areas of the UK where Sitka spruce are
    particularly high-yielding
  • A spread of ages that includes both first and second rotations
  • Mix of established forests and new planting

Tax Benefits

  • Tax free income
    Proceeds from UK timber sales are tax-free whether the asset is held personally or by a company
  • Tax free capital gains
    Increase in value of standing timber is exempt from capital gains tax (excluding increase in underlying land values)
  • Capital gains roll-over
    Proceeds from the sale of capital assets can be reinvested in UK commercial forestry land to defer the capital gains
  • No Inheritance tax
    Qualifies for Business Property Relief after two years of ownership

(Please note that Gresham House does not offer tax advice)

Approach

Taking Forestry from a tax driven business to one based on efficient, sustainable timber production…

Gresham House Forestry was established in 2001 to deliver a new approach to forestry investment, offering clients high level advice and management based on alignment of interest with investors and making a difference. The team looks to buy well, preferably off market and their strong operations team allows them to maximize returns from forest operations and management.

Investment Process

The focus of commercial forestry in the UK is on growing softwood conifers, in particular Sitka spruce; this main productive species is grown to be felled on a 35-40-year cycle.

All investments for clients start with an in-house sourcing and appraisal of possible assets for acquisition, which is carried out by the investment team. Investments on the open market are often sourced through selling agents; however, an extensive network of contacts in the industry have historically allowed multiple large-scale opportunities to be developed off-market. This is done through a combination of pro-active pursuit of acquisitions, owners and professional third parties indicating a desire to sell and offering the asset and direct introductions. The 180 years of combined experience amongst the team provides a wealth of industry knowledge and networks from which to source prime commercial forestry for investors.

Once identified, the investment team produce a full investment appraisal on the asset.

1) Acquisitions

  • Sourcing both on and off market transactions for clients
  • Appraising and valuing forests with technical onsite, and desktop due diligence
  • Identification and analysis of potential HBU opportunities
  • Investment Committee consideration of proposed deals
  • Purchase and support during the legal transaction.

2) Strong management of third party forestry service providers

  • Disciplined control of costs
  • Quarterly budgeting and reporting
  • Maximising biological growth and asset potential
  • Achieving the best prices for timber at harvesting
  • Alignment of interests with clients, fees commensurate with client’s returns
  • Independent third-party valuations.

3) Utilisation of Our Extensive Network

  • Breadth of relationships with on-site forestry specialists and timber buyers
  • Support and advice during any disposal process.

4) Exploration of Higher and Better Use (“HBU”) Opportunities

  • Systematic reviews to capitalise on any opportunities
  • Track record of identifying and delivering wind farm projects, small scale hydro opportunities, property developments.

5) Risk Management

  • Identify and manage physical risks
  • Insure against fire and storm damage, where appropriate
  • Management and mitigation of uninsured risks such as pests and disease
  • Building diversified portfolio of forests across age classes and geographical regions.

6) Long-Term Asset Management

  • Focusing on increasing and preserving the capital value of the asset
  • Focusing on sustainability.

How to Invest in Forestry

1. Via a timber fund
This timber fund is an unregulated collective investment schemes (UCIS) and as such, is subject to restrictions on promotion to investors. Please contact Anthony Crosbie Dawson on +44 (0)1451 843 096 or a.crosbiedawson@greshamhouse.com to discuss investing into the fund.

In order to be provided with information in relation to such funds you must be either:

  • An investment professional authorised to advise on UCIS; or
  • A person who has completed the Client Financial Information Form (“CFIF”) and has been assessed by Gresham House as being suitable and appropriate to invest in the fund due to being either a Certified High Net Worth Investor or a Self-Certified Sophisticated Investor; or
  • A person who is a Certified Sophisticated Investor; or
  • An Eligible Counterparty or Professional Client as set out in the FCA Handbook.

2. Direct ownership of a forest
Gresham House implements direct investments in forest properties, which can be targeted to match an investor’s specific requirements. Direct investments into mature forests provide tax free income from harvesting in the short to medium term, whilst long term capital growth can be achieved through the acquisition of younger crops or bare land for afforestation. Large scale forest assets generally provide the opportunity for both income and capital growth. Please refer to this link for more information on current direct investment opportunities.

  • Ability to generate tax free returns in any timespan from 1 to 35+ years
  • Planned to meet known future events
  • Ready liquidity through an active forest market

Investment into Forestry can be accessed by contacting:

Anthony Crosbie Dawson: +44 (0)1451 843 096
a.crosbiedawson@greshamhouse.com

Graham Carter: +44(0)7702 957 279
g.carter@greshamhouse.com

Trevor Blackburn: +44(0)7557 372 944
t.blackburn@greshamhouse.com

Gresham House Forestry Annualised Investment Performance

Calculated from financial information contained within the audited financial statements up to the end of 2016 using of a sample of mandates advised by Gresham House Forestry

Performance

  • Strong compound annual growth rates, averaging 17.4% over 10 years across client portfolios since inception (as at 31st December 2016)
  • Dedicated team of asset managers & professional foresters with over 180 years of combined experience
  • In excess of £280m assets under management on behalf of Institutions, Endowments, Family Offices and private investors

Forestry FAQs

Why is forestry so tax efficient?

There is no income tax when selling timber and no Capital Gains Tax (CGT) on the increase in value of timber. The increase in the value of land is subject to CGT. A commercial forest will also qualify for Business Property Relief (BPR), which provides 100% relief from inheritance tax (IHT), after two years of ownership.

When does the two year qualifying period for receiving 100% relief from IHT begin?

The two year qualifying period for BPR commences when the trade starts, i.e. from the purchase of a property or acquisition of shares in a fund.

What are the main markets for timber?

Forest owners benefit from diverse markets. There are seven main markets: construction, packaging, pallets, fencing, panel board, paper and biomass for energy and heat – this last market has led to new competition for the least valuable part of the tree and therefore increased the value of the whole tree to timber purchasers. The forest owner is not dependent on one market to sell timber to.

Why have returns on forestry investments been so good? (the independent IPD UK Forestry Index annualised 10 year return to December 2017 was 15.7%)

The essential ingredient is the assured growth rate in the volume of timber, combined with an increase in the unit value of the timber as the trees increase in size – larger trees provide less waste for sawmillers. So even at static timber prices, the investment should provide a positive return. Gresham House expects timber prices to be higher in the future due to substantial increases in consumption in both the developed and developing economies, in particular China and India, at a time when supplies will become increasingly constrained. A further factor in performance, as measured by the IPD UK Forestry Index, is a rise in underlying land values and the general level of plantation values, which are dictated by investor demand and the lower yield requirements of such investors. This is in turn partly driven by expectations on future timber prices. Rising timber prices should therefore enhance returns.

The Gresham House Timber Index indicates that there is a degree of volatility in timber prices. Is this an issue in considering an investment in forestry?

A benefit of forestry is that when prices drop there is no need to harvest. Value is stored “on the stump” and the trees continue to grow both in volume and unit timber value. There is generally a window of five to fifteen years in which a crop can be harvested, which means that the volatility in timber prices can be exploited to the landowner’s advantage.

What is the minimum investment?

Gresham House acts for private clients with an acquisition appetite for direct ownership of commercial forests, generally from £3 million upwards.

Other investment structures are available for smaller investors.

Is an investment liquid?

There is an active market for forest properties which sees good properties sold quickly. That having been said, forestry is the same as any other property, it is potentially illiquid as there is no perfect, established market. The trees continue to grow in volume, should a property remain unsold.

Who manages the forestry?

Experienced local woodland managers. They provide ongoing budgets for the development of the forest, which are reviewed by Gresham House and amended as necessary in order to ensure that the investment achieves the best possible return in the long term.

How is the forestry asset valued?

By taking into account location, the age and quality of the crop and the state of the infrastructure, in particular access to the forest. Value is ascertained by market evidence of comparable recent forest sales and is also calculated on a discounted cash flow basis.

How expensive is it to restock a forest?

The gross cost is about £3,000 per hectare. There is normally a planting grant available to aid re-establishment, which results in a net cost of approximately £2,700 per hectare.

What type of tree is best to invest in?

Sitka spruce produces the greatest volume of timber in the shortest time in the UK (it has a 35-50 year rotation) and has the greatest diversity of end uses. Once established, Sitka spruce grows at about 5% per annum on average across a rotation.

What are the main risks of an investment into forestry?

The main risks are fire and windblow. These, along with public liability, are insured against. There is currently no insurance cover for pests and disease but trees with a relatively short rotation, such as Sitka spruce, are less vulnerable to pests and disease than trees with a lifespan of more than 50 years.

What are the environmental benefits to owning forestry?

All Gresham House properties are managed in accordance with the UK Woodland Assurance Standard (UKWAS) and therefore have full Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. This means that all harvested areas are replanted, ensuring that the forests are sustainable. Furthermore, the forests are managed in an environmentally friendly manner, which encourages biodiversity.

Summary of Sitka Spruce Plant Research

There is a continuing programme of research into the characteristics of Sitka spruce with the long term aim of improving the genetic quality of planting stock. Gresham House actively monitors the latest developments in crop improvements to ensure our clients forests are maximising productivity and return on investment through biological growth and crop quality.

The research is being led by the Sitka spruce Breeding Co-operative which is a collaboration between Forest Research (the research agency of the Forestry Commission) and senior members of the forestry industry. The key objectives are:

  • To improve the economic return of key coniferous species by ensuring they are well adapted;
  • To grow faster and straighter than unimproved stock;
  • To possess better internal wood qualities which are able to satisfy the construction timber market.

Target Characteristics of Sitka spruce

In analysing tree form the following characteristics are assessed, all of which are important factors to end users and thus affect commercial value. Research is actively focused on improving these specific traits of Sitka spruce:

  • Diameter Increase
  • Wood Density
  • Stem straightness
  • Minimal branching
  • Acoustic Velocity

Improved Sitka spruce

Superior characteristics are being demonstrated by Seed Orchard plants and MOO cuttings when compared with the original ‘unimproved’ Queen Charlotte Island (QCI) provenance trees planted in the UK during the 20th Century.

Seed Orchard Sitka

Seed Orchard Sitka spruce (also known as ‘improved’ or ‘elite’ Sitka) are selected plants grown in a seed orchard from parents specifically chosen for genetically superior characteristics. These are known as ‘half-sibling’ plants, as each seed is produced from different parents. Due to the range of parents these crops do display genetic variation however to a much lesser extent than unimproved stock. Seed Orchard seedlings are robust plants suitable for planting in a range of conditions.

VP (MOO) Sitka

Vegetatively propagated (MOO) Sitka is the most genetically advanced Sitka seedling currently available. These are full-sibling cuttings (where both parents are known) grown from tip cuttings taken from selected improved mother plants. The similarity in genetic traits is expected to increase the uniformity of the crop compared with Seed Orchard and QCI stock. These plants are estimated to show a 20% improvement in diameter increase, straightness and branching without compromising timber density. The seedlings can be more fragile during the first phase of establishment. Accordingly, Gresham House typically plant these only on the best soils at lower altitudes to minimise the increased costs which can occur from failed plants.

Senior Management Team