A new investment fund has been launched looking to acquire UK farmland suitable for tree planting for timber production and ecological objectives.
Land suitable for the transition from grazing to woodland is now being identified by True North European Real Estate Partners.
The firm is working with farmers and landowners looking to release capital by selling small or larger acreages of marginal hill or arable land.
This would be appropriate for areas typically of over 200 acres in size, or an entire farm, where the land is suited to conversion to forestry.
The Forestry Carbon Sequestration Fund has raised an initial £30m equity target with Willis Towers Watson, for investment in suitable land, with further funding potential available should targets be reached.
The fund is open to private, off-market deals, with land valuations carried out by an independent valuer and acquisitions paid for at market value.
Where land is deemed suitable, the transaction process can be 'swiftly achieved' given that the required capital for purchase is already in place, True North said.
It added that each planting scheme would be individually designed and managed for the long term by a professional forestry team.
Both amenity and ecological objectives would be taken into account, alongside the main objective of quality timber production.
True North fund manager, James Jackson said: “We are in the process of identifying farmland suitable for tree planting, providing farmers and landowners with the opportunity to release capital from suitable land sales.
"This might allow for restructuring of an existing business; provide the opportunity to expand or introduce new enterprises through diversification; or provide the means by which to downsize or retire, potentially with the opportunity to continue to live in a residential property on the farm.
“The result will not be the squares of monoculture sitka spruce of the past; instead sensitive ecological designs will ensure that planting is individually designed and right for the area in which it is situated, with local stakeholders engaged with on the design."
He said management by the forestry team would 'nurture' the crop to maximise both its timber crop yield and the associated carbon sequestration.
"We are seeking to deliver premium timber that will have long term use in construction that will lock up carbon beyond harvest,” Mr Jackson said.