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Forestry

Forestry is the growing of trees for business and pleasure. The forest chain leads from seed to factory gate - and beyond, to the consumer who uses wood products and to society which gains from the beneficial side effects.

It is a long chain - stretching in time, sometimes over generations making it a uniquely demanding and fulfilling experience. The production of high quality trees which in turn will yield high quality timber should normally be the primary, although not the only, objective.

Forestry as an investment asset distinguishes itself from more traditional assets in several ways. The basis of the return is the biological growth of the trees. Choosing the right species and provenance on the right location is fundamental and combining this with modern silvicultural management methods will improve this element of return. A well organised and well managed forest is a biologically and physically stable asset. This gives the opportunity to further improve the return on the investment, by, for instance, generating other sources of income (such as from recreational uses), timely timber sales and opportunistic disposals.

Most of the wood in Ireland is sold standing to mills or felling contractors. Wood from the initial thinnings is used in board industries, as well as for fencing with emerging wood energy markets also stimulating demand. Timber quality wood will potentially be saleable on the domestic market as well as to the UK where significant export opportunities exist.

Income arising from the occupation of Irish woodlands is tax exempt (there are some circumstances where a tax situation can arise for high earners). Capital gains attributable to the trees are exempt except in the hands of a company.

Rates of return vary with species, quality, location and other factors. A minimum of 5% real p.a. over the rotation (over and above inflation) should be achievable on well managed properties with upside for aggressive management. This compares favourably with most forms of investment, when viewed over the long term.

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