Hello my name is John Tunnicliffe, founder of The Woodland Bond.
Thank you for your interest in this new and exciting project. Over the next few pages I hope to explain what the Bond is, why I started it and what it can offer. And to show you how you can benefit from this very enjoyable and safe investment for as long as you want and even benefit your benefactors.
I think the best place to start is with my own experiences and the influences that led me to start the Woodland Bond.
I purchased my first Woodland in 2006. I had many reasons for my decision to buy but some of the key factors are as follows:
A Solid Investment
I wanted a safe rock solid investment to add to my investment portfolio something away from the Banks and Financial institutions, as they were not looking as dependable for a return as I would like. And I needed something that was unlikely to drop in value. All investments carry a level of risk and I wanted this one to be as low risk as possible.
I wanted it to be Tax efficient meaning that during the life of the investment its value would not be eroded by taxation, like stamp duty and rates and for example.
I wanted if possible to actually enjoy my investment not just watch it grow (or fall) on paper or a computer screen I wanted to feel it hold it and be proud of it.
Enjoyment for myself my family and my friends
I wanted it to be low maintenance or should I say more specifically not tie me to huge amounts of time as my work and family life meant spare time was and still is at a premium.
At this point I should say I love being out in the countryside it refreshes and invigorates me, I am a nature lover Plants, Birds, Mammals they all give me great pleasure.
If I could find something that family and friends could enjoy, that would be even better.
I had always hoped that one day I would own a holiday house in or near one of our National Parks but – A, I couldn’t afford it, B, I didn’t want to be tied to maintaining it and C, I couldn’t decide which part of the country I liked best.
I didn’t want my investment to have a negative impact on the environment and what is more if it could be a positive impact so much the better.
So I looked long and hard at what was on offer and in the marketplace that fitted my criteria and came across our wonderful UK woodlands.
The harder I looked the more the idea of investing in woodland fitted and with the added benefit of the Woodland not being counted in my estate for inheritance tax calculation.
So I decided Woodland would be a good investment for me, that is all apart from one small detail…. Other than as a child I had spent many summer days playing in my local woods with friends and as an adult looking after the Trees in my garden I had very little experience of Forestry. However I soon discovered that there are specialist Forest management companies with plenty of expertise in managing woodland of all shapes and sizes so I decided that I would employ the services of a Forest manager, I was also willing to learn so undaunted I started to educate myself I bought some books on trees and woodland management read them then started my search for suitable woodland.
During my search for a suitable woodland I soon I discovered there are 3 main categories of Woodland purchase available (until now that is).
- Buy a forest (The domain of the specialist forestry companies)
- Buy a Large wood usually uneconomic for forestry and usually sold by land agents.
- Buy a woodland plot, part of a larger wood that has been purchased to be subdivided and sold on in isolation i.e. you are then responsible for managing insuring and maintaining it.
I chose category 2 it was a lot larger than I wanted but it was a superb location.
I can’t really describe the jubilation I felt when I first set foot in my very own woodland only to say it was a magical experience and one I can highly recommend.
Every time I visit I feel elated at the magic of having my own woodland…the Robin that finds me soon after I arrive and then follows me for most of my stay to see if I turn over a log or disturb a branch that may give him a tasty treat. …. An Apple tree that was probably self seeded from a Woodman’s discarded Apple core many years ago, a patch of wild primroses unseen before, a sunny tranquil patch of stream bank perfect for a picnic….and on it goes it just gets better and better the more I visit and enjoy it the more I understand it and the more reward I get from it. Not to mention the surrounding areas beaches, lakes, mountains all to be explored.
As you can see I get a huge benefit from my woodland I can honestly say it is the best investment I have ever made in that the enjoyment friends, family and I have already had has made it priceless!
The Woodland Bond Idea forms
As news of my woodland investment spread through family, friends colleagues, friends of friends etc I was amazed at the interest my project generated all wanted to know how it was going what I was doing and where was it leading…some thought I had finally lost my marbles altogether but most were very supportive and many wanted to know how they could get involved. When I replied, “find a woodland that suits you then buy it”, clouds of uncertainty would develop I would ask what’s the problem? The reply I usually get is but I don’t know anything about woodlands!
So an idea started to form: I should set up an organization that will allay the fears of the budding woodland investor and enhance the benefits that I have already found from owning my own wood? After much research and many conversations with specialists and would be investors………. A set of criteria began to emerge:
- Investors will own their wood outright.
- Investors must know what they can and can’t do with Woodland before they buy it.
- Investors must know what the management company will and will not provide
- If a larger wood is to be divided for multiple owners it must be still managed as a whole by one company for the protection of all of the owners investment and the woodland as a whole.
- If a large wood is to have multiple owners, for their own protection a set of clear rules would need to be created some call it a covenant I am calling it the Woodland Bond.
- Investors must be assured that their investment is secure and well managed another reason to have a single management company for the whole project
- What added value other than the piece of mind of a protected investment can be offered by signing up to the Woodland Bond.
- An easy and informative route of communication between the owners and the management company that is looking after their investment.
- An easy route of communication between Bond holders and If desired an ability to share time and enjoy each others Woods in great locations right across the UK
- An ability for owners to be involved with specific maintenance tasks of the wider wood
- An owners weekend at the wood with the managers and with guest speakers like the Forestry Commission and the RSPB
- An easy exit route should the owners circumstances change
Each of the above criteria is covered in greater detail in the Bond document.
The whole idea began to look very promising to me I felt however that I should run the idea by a more specialist group and I chose the governing body for most of the Woodland in the UK The Forestry Commission, I had an informal meeting with a senior Forestry Commission representative and to summarise the outcome.
The Forestry Commission are concerned about the splitting up of woodlands in the UK with no cohesive plan for the management of these fragmented plots. It does appear however that Woodland Bonds approach may help to alleviate the Forestry Commissions fears in this area.
The positive result from that meeting was the final decision maker for me and Woodland Bond is the product.
In summary Woodland Bonds unique features are:
1. A clear and easy route to investing in Woodland including a try before you buy option.
2. A management company that’s primary aim is for you to enjoy your investment
3. A set of rules that will protect your investment
4. The ability and choice for you to share time in your woods with other Bond holders and visa versa.
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