Farmers urged to take advantage of grants to increase woodland

The tax regime for commercial woodlands remains advantageous, with much activity effectively falling outside the scope of tax
The tax regime for commercial woodlands remains advantageous, with much activity effectively falling outside the scope of tax

Low rates of tree planting and ambitious Government targets have made the climate favourable for landowners to take advantage of grant schemes and tax incentives to increase woodland cover.

In 2017 only 1500ha of new woodland was planted in England, following an even lower 800ha in 2016.

These numbers make Government targets to increase England’s wooded area by 5000ha per annum and achieve 12 per cent woodland cover by 2060 even more challenging.

In Scotland there is a different picture, with an annual Forestry Commission target to plant 10,000ha per annum. 7,100ha were planted in 2017/18, up by 2,300ha on the previous year.



Jane Hill, Partner at Saffery Champness said : "It now looks like the tree planting targets will be missed by a significant margin. What this means however is that there is real opportunity for private landowners and farmers to benefit given that the overall disposition is already favourable towards increased planting and management, and that the Forestry Commission will be looking towards new private woodlands to help in playing catch-up.

"The fires in the USA and US/Canada trade restrictions have also brought fresh buoyancy to global timber prices. This is coupled with new tree planting grants coming on stream, and greater scope for segmentation in the timber market whereby the best quality timber can achieve the best returns.



Ms Hill added: "The overall picture for timber post-Brexit, in as much as any meaningful forecast can be made, will see support targeted towards the delivery of public benefits which in the woodland and forestry sectors include carbon offsetting, biodiversity, health and recreation."

The tax regime for commercial woodlands remains advantageous, with much activity effectively falling outside the scope of tax.

Woodland is not subject to income tax, inheritance tax exempt and with limited capital gains tax exposure coupled with some woodland sales at a beneficial 5 per cent chargeable VAT.