Woodland For Sale

Image showing woodland for sale in the UK

Sourcing Woodland For Sale

Even if you find woodland for sale, you should be aware that it is illegal to live on woodland in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. You can camp if you have permission from the owner of the land. This applies to Forestry Commission land and other public access land.

In Scotland the Land Reform Act of 2003 made it legal to temporarily live in the woods but you must respect land owners and the environment if you do so. Wild camping on woodland or in a forest area should only ever be for a limited time.

Even if you buy woodland for sale yourself you cannot automatically live on it unless you have planning permission for a legal dwelling. Local and national laws are complex regarding the siting of caravans, yurts, tents and other temporary structures.

Buying woodland for sale in the UK is usually undertaken as a property investment and not as somewhere to live.

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Image showing woodland for sale in the UK
People search for woodland for sale in the UK for various reasons, but not normally for building purposes. Photo © Christine Johnstone (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Why Do People Buy Woodland For Sale?

People purchase woodland for sale for a number of reasons. You can get a one acre patch of woodland for as little as £10,000 and use it for recreational purposes or simply sit on it and wait for the value to increase.

Some families invest in woodland and use it as a retreat from the stresses of life in the city. In fact, woodland for sale is on the increase in the UK and a relatively small area of woodland can be bought and used for picnics, sports and other relaxing pursuits.

Although you cannot build a permanent structure on woodland, you can have a tool shed and are allowed to camp for up to 28 days a year. If you have a log burner you can use the woodland as a source of fuel.

Photo showing woodland for sale with limited access
One of the issues when buying woodland for sale in the UK is often access to the property. Photo © Trevor Littlewood (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Is Buying Woodland A Good Property Investment?

Returns from commercial forestry can be as much as 8% a year but you must have a licence from the Forestry Commission in order to fell trees. There are tax breaks to be had for owners of wooded land but these mainly apply to commercial forestry operations where more than £40,000 has been invested.

Some woodland for sale that is a commercial operation may be classified as a business and as such is not subject to inheritance tax after two years of ownership. Wooded land for sale that is not used commercially still escapes inheritance tax after five years of ownership.

There is no capital gains tax on profits from commercially produced timber although there is a tax on the actual land. Annual returns for businesses that have invested higher sums have been 11% per annum over the last five years.

As the value of timber continues to rise, investing in woodland has proved to be a profitable enterprise.

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Photo of natural woodland for sale
There is a major difference between natural woodland and commercially planted forest. Photo © Roger Kidd (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Where Can I Find A Small Woodland For Sale?

The best place to find a small woodland for sale is a specialist woodland sales company. There are several websites that provide this service which make buying and selling woodland a simple process.

Some sellers concentrate on land in a specific area of the UK, especially via land property auctions. Typical popular areas are property auctions in Wales and Yorkshire property auctions. Others cover all parts of the UK including Scotland where buying is subject to different laws to other parts of the country.

Buying woodland for sale, even if it is a small woodland, in the UK is regarded as a longer term investment and not a property development opportunity.

How Much Is An Acre Of Woodland?

Prices for woodland for sale vary considerably and if you only want to buy one acre of land it is more expensive than buying a larger plot. You could expect to pay from between £10,000 to £15,000 when buying an individual acre depending on the location.

Conversely, if you can afford to buy a larger amount of land you could get a hundred acres for £600,000 which works out at £6,000 per acre.

Photo of commercial woodland for sale
Buying commercial woodland, or forest specifically planted for harvesting, is regarded as a longer term investment in the UK. Photo © P L Chadwick (cc-by-sa/2.0)

What you pay will depend upon a lot of factors. If the woodland for sale is close to utilities like water and electricity or if it has a legal barn or outbuilding already standing the cost will go up.

A lot of farmland advertised for sale has covenants attached i.e. restrictions on what you can and cannot do on the land. A covenant may prevent you from using the land for a particular type of business. If the land is near to housing there may also be restrictions.

Woodland FAQ

Can I Buy Woodland For Sale?

Woodland is for sale in many parts of the UK. The value of land in the UK is still rising and buying woodland is becoming very popular. For a relatively small amount you can buy your own woodland that can be used for recreational purposes.

Can I Build A House On Woodland?

You are not allowed to build any structure on woodland unless it is for the purposes of forestry. In this case the erection of a shed, outbuilding or shelter is allowed. You cannot build a permanent dwelling. A caravan is allowed as long as it is not intended for residential purposes.

Can People Claim The Right To Roam Over My Woodland?

If your wooded land is subject to the Countryside Rights Of Way Act 2000 the public are allowed to walk through your woodland. You can close the area if you are working the land, harvesting or engaging in a sporting event. Where there is no public footpath anyone walking across your land would be trespassing.

Buying A Woodland

Before you consider buying a woodland for sale in the UK there are a few issues you should take account of before spending your money. The last thing you need is to buy a woodland and find out you cannot use it for the reasons you bought it.

Before buying a woodland in the UK:

  • Do your homework before you buy woodland: Even if it has no building, you should still have a survey done to make certain there are no unexpected surprises, such as access to your woodland or a real risk of flooding, subsidence or landslips.
  • Buying a woodland to live on: This is a very grey area and your right to live in a woodland you own will vary depending on what part of the UK you are in. Before buying a woodland to live on, such as in a caravan or a cabin, check with your local authority.
  • Growing vegetables or grazing animals: Again, make sure this is something you can actually do before buying a woodland. Your local council should be able to advise you on the usage rights of any piece of land for sale in the UK, including woodland.
  • Buying a woodland at auction: You can buy woodland in the UK at auction, but you still need to do your research before purchasing. The details will be in the property auction catalogue, so conduct your surveys, visit the property and talk to neighbours. Never buy a woodland on a whim at a property auction.
  • Cutting down trees: Before you buy a woodland you should check it’s usage rights and whether it is protected or not, or part of a national park. Do not cut down trees in your own woodland before checking if you are allowed to do so.
Image showing a woodland for sale in the UK
Before buying a woodland in the UK, check with your local authority that you can use it for the purpose you intend to. Some woodlands are protected or have other restrictions.

Woodland For Sale With Cabin

If you are specifically looking for a woodland for sale with a cabin located within the woodland, be careful. Just because there may be a cabin in the woodland, it does not mean you will have the right to live there permanently.

These laws vary greatly depending on your part of the UK. For example, you may be able to live in a cabin on your woodland in the UK for a period of the year, such as up to six months, and the cabin may be classed as a temporary building. However, this does not grant you permission to build, extend, renovate or move into the cabin in your woodland on a permanent basis.

In more rural parts of Scotland many people new to the area think that because there is a cabin in the woodland for sale, it means there is an existing building. While this may be the case, you need to check with your local authorities before you purchase a woodland for sale with a cabin on the land.

The safest form of action is not to make any assumptions, even if it is a very remote building or the area is very isolated. Talk with your local council before purchasing any wooded land even if there is a cabin there before you buy.

Photo of a woodland for sale with cabin on the land inside the trees
Looking for a woodland for sale with a cabin already located is less common in the UK but this can be a legal minefield. Speak to your local authorities before buying. Photo © Julian Paren (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Finding A Small Woodland For Sale

While many people like the idea of finding a small woodland for sale and taking the plunge to purchase it, you have to be pragmatic as to how you will use it. More importantly is what you are allowed to do with it.

There are some facts such as the location of the wooded land, the size and access to the land. Even the type of trees can affect the site and before beginning your search for a small woodland for sale you should investigate these matters.

Don’t make any assumptions about what you can do with the land and before purchasing any lots, even a small woodland, talk to your local authority to make sure you are not on course to breach local bylaws.

The ideal situation for many would be to find a small woodland with a cabin which could be lived in but, realistically, this is not very common in the UK and you will almost certainly not get permission to build any kind of structure in a small woodland. Again, speak to your local council before embarking on any purchase.

Image of a small woodland for sale in the UK
While it is entirely possible to buy a small woodland for sale in the UK, you may be restricted in what you can do with your wooded land. Photo © Trevor Littlewood (cc-by-sa/2.0)

Tree Planting On Woodland

Buying a few acres of land in order to plant trees sounds like a good idea especially as the Woodland Trust encourages projects like this to aid ecology of the land. However, there are some practicalities to think about before you go ahead with your plans for a large area of woodland.

If you own the land you can plant trees otherwise you need written permission from the owner. Some land is not suitable for planting trees. Specifically, land that is inhabited by rare or protected species, wetland, heath-land and any land that has archaeological significance.

Land that has cables or underground pipes running through it must be avoided. Spacing trees is important and take into account how much maintenance will be required to keep the woodland in the best condition.

If a public footpath goes across the land you must not block off access. The best option is to contact the Forestry Commission for advice about tree planting but importantly think carefully about the land use before you begin your search for wooded land for sale anywhere in the UK.

Image showing forestry commission land in the UK
The Forestry Commission may be able to advise you when it comes to buying or using a particular piece of woodland in the UK. Photo © Jim Barton (cc-by-sa/2.0)

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Maintaining Woodland

No two wooded areas are alike. Although you may think that you can leave a wood alone and it will attract wildlife there are some simple things you can do to make your wood easy to keep up and more attractive to a variety of species.

Lowland woods benefit if old tracks and paths are kept open. This allows light to filter in and will help to encourage grasses and wildflowers as well as small creatures. Leave some of the dead wood that has fallen and this will boost insects which attract beautiful birds like woodpeckers.

Clear a space if you want to plant new saplings but remember to employ an expert if you want to fell some trees. Woodland will require thinning at some point so that the wood is not choked and light can aid the growth of new plants and trees. There is a host of information about how to maintain woodland on the Royal Forestry Society website.

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