FORESTRY is faring better than many sectors amid the coronavirus crisis, according to rural land and business specialist, Bell Ingram.

The market for biomass is said to be holding up as many hospitals, schools and other key buildings depend on wood chips and pellets to fuel their heating systems. The high demand for distribution pallets from logistics companies who are moving goods like food and medical supplies across the UK, has also helped maintain log production. 

As construction slowly comes back online, it is anticipated markets for sawlogs will resume production over the coming weeks, Bell Ingram said.

Bell Ingram’s forestry team provides forestry management and investment services and is working with rural businesses to adjust their forestry programmes in line with new trends in demand. Planting, harvesting, fencing and road improvement projects are also going ahead within strict government rules.

Forestry Journal: Phil Dean.Phil Dean.

Phil Dean, Bell Ingram’s head of forestry, said: “We have a number of planting schemes in full swing at the moment, and harvesting has continued for a number of our clients, albeit at reduced volumes. 

“It would be wrong to say that it’s ‘business as usual’ … but everyone is trying to make it business ‘as close to usual’ as we can, while factoring in all the important new safety rules. 

“The planting, management and harvesting of trees is a largely rural operation with limited interaction with other people and we are complying with all the new social distancing and hygiene measures, as well as existing health and safety standards.” 

Looking to the future, Phil is optimistic that the coronavirus crisis won’t have a major impact on forest values and that the sector still offers solid investment opportunities. 

He continued: “I’m talking to many people who say that they are glad to have their money in forestry, especially when you look at the rollercoaster ride the stock market has been on since this crisis began. Forestry is, by its very nature, a long-term investment and those who are able to take a long-term view can see past the current restrictions, where the drivers for forestry grow are still as strong as ever.” 

While the crisis has prompted an inevitable slowdown in forestry sales as prospective buyers are unable to travel to view a forest, there’s still some promising activity bubbling under. 

Phil added: “With one sale that’s due to complete at the end of this month and a number of new instructions, Bell Ingram’s forestry sales are still looking healthy despite the obvious constraints. I think that there’s been a pause for breath in terms of the market but long-term I don’t see this crisis having a big impact on forest values.”

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