If you love the natural beauty of the UK’s woodlands, then owning some woodland of your own could be a dream come true. While this type of land is generally unsuitable for building a home on, due to the fact that the natural environments in the UK are very carefully protected and you are highly unlikely to get any form of planning permission on a woodland plot, there are still plenty of other good reasons to invest in your own woodland area.
In this article, we look at some of the things you need to know if you are thinking of buying woodland, and some of the many advantages to owning woodland land:
What You Need to Know About Buying Woodland
Around 13% of the total area of the UK is woodland, so no matter where in the UK you’d like to invest in land, there is likely to be woodland for sale. Costs will vary according to the location, age and what is on the land, but the average price for an acre of woodland is around £10,000. Bear in mind too that there are two categories when it comes to woodland, which are amenity, and commercial. Amenity woodland is bought either for purely conservational reasons or to be used for leisure, such as for you to personally use to camp on or just enjoy. Commercial woodland is bought either for timber, or for other types of business venture that can be operated in woodland areas, such as outdoor pursuits companies or airsoft or paintball courses. Make sure the type of land you buy is suitable for the way you want to use it.
Woodland is generally exempt from stamp duty until the value is over £150,000, so for most independent landowners, this will not be an issue. Another tax consideration is that it is completely exempt from inheritance tax, including the value of the trees on the land if the land is being used for timber. This applies as long as you’ve had the land for over two years before it is passed on to an heir. This can make it a good long-term investment for your family. In fact, financial experts say that woodland is one of the soundest land investments in the UK when it comes to tax efficiency. Check out this guide from Arbtech for more information about the financial side of owning woodland, and more information about how and why to buy.
When it comes to your rights as owner of the land, it will be classed as privately owned and any commercial rights belong to you; however, the right to roam will usually apply and you will have to preserve any existing public pathways that go through the land. You also have the right to spend up to 28 days per year camping on the land or staying there in a caravan (if there is access), but you can’t live on it full time.
Leisure Advantages to Owning Woodland
If you buy woodland classed as amenity woodland, then it is yours to relax in whenever you want. As stated, there are limits on how many days per year you can camp there, but it can make for a great holiday spot to get away to at weekends or in the summer, especially if you live in the city and love to get away from it all and get back to nature in your free time. It can also be nice to know, if you enjoy hiking or just taking your dog for a walk, that you own the land you are on, and are helping the environment by holding onto it.
There are certainly proven psychological benefits to spending time out in nature, and if this is something you’d like to do more of, then having your own plot of woodland can be a great incentive to enjoy virtually free camping trips and days out getting fresh air and getting away from the stresses of your everyday life.
Commercial Advantages to Owning Woodland in the UK
If you invest in woodland that is categorised as commercial, then you have an opportunity to start a new business, or to fell trees and sell the timber. Timber is considered an important building material, and developers are being highly incentivised to use it due to its sustainability. You can fell five cubic metres per quarter before you need to apply for a licence, and any money you make from selling timber is actually tax free, so it can be a very sound opportunity. You will need to consider the types of trees on the land and whether there are any restrictions on the particular plot of woodland you are thinking of buying if you intend to use it for timber, for instance Conservation Area Orders or Tree Preservation Orders. You’ll also need to consider whether the land is accessible.
If you want to start a business around outdoor activities, then you’ll mainly need to consider how easy the land is for people to get to. Most people won’t want to hike through miles of forest before a day out paintballing.
However, if the land suits the type of commercial use you want to make of it, it can be a fantastic investment.
Good for the Environment
Woodland, when managed well, really promotes the biodiversity of the area, and is an important natural habitat for all kinds of animals and birds. Some people simply buy woodland to take care of it for ecological reasons, or to have good access to study the natural flora and fauna there.
Woodland is such an important part of the landscape in the UK, and it does a lot for us, like providing a buttress that can protect from erosion and floods, and absorbing carbon emissions. When you consider the leisure, financial and environmental advantages you could gain by investing in UK woodland, it is easy to see why it could be a great choice to do it.