The price of woodland per acre: an Addland Guide

Key facts
  • The price of woodland is usually between £5,000 and £10,000 per acre
  • The two types of UK woodland are commercial woodland, used mostly for timber production and some recreational activities; and amenity woodland, any woodland used for non-commercial activities, such as conservation, hobbyist forestry, or leisure
  • A woodland's condition is categorised as: good (no need of restoration), moderate (in need of restoration), or poor (little hope of restoration)

The price of woodland in the UK is between £5,000 and £10,000 per acre. Although prices can vary from this depending on many factors, including:

  • Type of Woodland
  • Plot Size
  • Woodland productivity and condition
  • Access
  • Purchasing and Annual Maintenance costs

The price per acre of all woodland is hard to place value on, as purchases are often made for specific and individual motivations. By assessing the factors affecting that can affect the price, you can gain an understanding of what might make your woodland attractive to buyers. While those looking for a plot can assess why a plot might seem cheap or expensive, and what kind of woodland is right for them.

Type of Woodland 

The two categories of woodland in the UK are commercial woodland and amenity woodland. Commercial woodland is woodland that is used for commercial purposes, mostly timber production but can also include recreational activities, such as paintballing, outdoor courses, or forestry schools.

Amenity woodland on the other hand is woodland that is used for non-commercial purposes, including; conservation, hobbyist forestry, or leisure. Amenity woodland also includes ancient woodlands, that have persisted since 1600 in England and Wales, and have been around for so long that they have developed special communities of plants and animals not found elsewhere. Ancient woodlands make up 2.5% of UK land (1,506,675 acres/609,990 hectares).

In 2020 the cost of commercial forestry was £6,460 per acre (£15,956 per hectare), a 39% annual increase from the previous year. Whereas amenity woodland costs around £7,200 per acre (£17,748 per hectare).

Plot Size

The factor that has the largest impact on the price of woodland per acre is plot size. Savills surveys on both amenity and commercial woodland found great contrasts in the price of woodland per acre depending on the size of the woodland plot. For amenity woodland, the price per acre decreases as plot size increases. Whereas for commercial woodland, the price per acre increases as plot size increases. Addland lets you see the size of every single parcel of land in England and Wales, and even measure custom areas and boundaries. 

The average asking price across the UK for a small amenity woodland plot (below 5 hectares, or 12.4 acres) was in excess of £10,931 per acre (£27,000 per hectare). However, the average asking price of larger woodlands was below £3,643.7 per acre (£9,000 per hectare), a significant difference. Woodland being small enough to be affordable, however, is a big factor for amenity buyers, once the price reaches over £60,000, amenity buyers start to thin.

Commercial woodland, however, must be sufficient to benefit from economies of scale for timber operations. So commercial woodland cost an average of £4,696 per acre (£11,600 per hectare), for small plots 50 - 370 acres (20-150 hectares). Whereas woodland purchases over 370 acres (150 hectares) cost an average of £5,303.6 per acre (£13,100 per hectare).

Woodland productivity and condition

Productivity

The productivity and condition of woodlands play a key role in defining their potential income from timber sales and their price per acre, particularly for commercial forests. As all forests have unproductive areas such as tracks, rivers, and lochs, it is important to consider the value of the productive area to determine the potential for timber income. Whilst the average price for commercial woodland is £4,696 per acre (£11,600 per hectare). The average price per net productive area is £6,073 per acre (£15,000 per hectare). 

Productivity for amenity woodland is far less of a factor in determining what the guide price may be, but owners of amenity woodland can use their parcels of woodland to produce firewood. The demand for which is ever increasing with the energy crisis and a shift towards biomass boilers. If your plot is ancient woodland, however, there will be strict limits to the extent you will be able to use your woodland for habitat protection. Ancient woodlands also have repercussions on planning applications you might want to make. Any propositions that result in the loss or deterioration of ancient woodland, ancient trees and veteran trees, will likely be refused. Use Addland's research tool to identify all areas of ancient woodland and their proximity to a selected polygon. 

Condition 

The condition of commercial forestry and amenity woodland also plays a role in the price per acre. The condition of both types of woodland can be assessed using a number of metrics including, woodland age structure, the variety of trees present, the presence of different mammals and birds, the understory vegetation, and the presence of diseased trees and deadwood. However, ecologists commonly categorize woodlands condition as good (no need of restoration), moderate (in need of restoration), or poor (little hope of restoration). 

Owners of woodland or potential purchasers can assess the quality of a piece of woodland by taking a survey of the woodland when walking through it, and comparing results to the classifications threshold using the woodland wildlife tool kit.

A woodland's condition will depend on the way it has been managed. If commercial woodland has been regularly thinned, it is likely to produce higher future yields, and a piece of well-spaced broadleaf woodland crisscrossed with paths is more attractive to amenity buyers than a block of impenetrable conifer woodland. 

A way to check if the woodland you are interested in has been well managed is if it has been certified. This means it has been independently audited against the UK Woodlands Assurance Standard (UKWAS). This requires woodland managers to meet certain standards to ensure the woodland is being managed in a way that preserves the natural ecosystem. 44% of all UK woodlands are certified.

You can use the Addland research tool to find out further information about the area of woodland you are interested in. 

Access

Access may also be a reason a woodlands price per acre seems cheap or expensive.

For commercial recreational woodland, used for the likes of paintballing, creation of woodland lodges, outdoor training courses or woodland schools/classes, excellent access and parking facilities are important and affect the price per acre. Equally, commercial forests with poor vehicular access make timber extraction challenging resulting in prices as low as £3,500 per acre. 

For amenity buyers, desirable plots have a good balance between road access and seclusion. Woodland with public access will generally limit the price per acre, whereas a private location with good access to a main road prices can reach £10,000 per acre. Find out if a parcel of woodland has nearby roads or public footpaths using Addland's research tool

Purchasing Costs

Associated purchasing costs: 

  • Solicitors’ fees - have an average cost of 0.5% of the property value. 
  • Extra searches - Any searches that aren’t included in that will likely cost between £50 and £150.
  • Title deeds - Recording land registry title deeds will cost up to £40 for woodlands under £80,000.
  • If the woodland you are buying costs over £150,000 then you’ll need to pay stamp duty.

Owning woodland

Annual Maintenance Costs

For woodland owners, a common annual charge are the costs of forestry management services, although, they aren’t strictly necessary if you’re able to maintain the land yourself. But if you do need woodland management services, it can cost at least £1,500 a year to pay someone to keep 5 acres of trees managed. With costs of any drainage and transport bills added on top of this.

Public liability is also recommended, costing around £100 per year — to cover yourself in case someone injures themselves in your woods, even if they aren’t supposed to be there.

Benefits

Whilst there are clearly many factors related to buying woodland. Owning woodland can bring its costs or prove to be a wise long-term investment. You can check out our guide to the benefits of planting trees for more info. The far-reaching benefits of woodland can include:

  • If woodland has been planted under a woodland creation grant then your return on investment will largely depend on the carbon market. Many land managers anticipate a rise in carbon price and the UK’s 2050 net-zero target approaches.
  • Tax Breaks - One of the perks of owning UK woodland is the Inheritance Tax relief. To qualify, you must have owned the woodland for a minimum of only two years and have run it as a business.
  • Aside from monitory benefits, amenity woodland, in particular, can have social benefits. Exercising in acres of woodland has been shown to relieve physical symptoms such as high blood pressure and obesity, as well as mental symptoms of stress and depression. And according to forest research around 50% of people that visited woodland as a result of Covid-19 reported an increase in their level of happiness.
Addland
Published: 14 July 2022
Last updated: 02 November 2022

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