An up-beat assessment of the forestry market by the forestry team at Bell Ingram claims the sector is faring better than many rural businesses amid the coronavirus crisis.

The positive points highlighted by the company include the market for biomass holding up as many hospitals depend on wood chips and pellets to fuel their heating systems, together with high demand for distribution pallets for companies who are moving food and medical supplies across the country.

However, the market for saw logs has fallen due to a lack of construction work.

The company’s head of forestry, Phil Dean, said a number of planting schemes were still in full swing, and fencing, road improvement and harvesting has continued, albeit at reduced volumes.

He said: “It would be wrong to say that it’s ‘business as usual’ but everyone is trying to make it business ‘as close to usual’ as we can, while factoring in all the important new safety rules.

“The planting, management and harvesting of trees is a largely rural operation with limited interaction with other people and we are complying with all the new social distancing and hygiene measures, as well as existing health and safety standards.”

Mr Dean predicted forestry values wouldn’t be badly impacted by the crisis, and claimed the sector still offers solid investment opportunities.

“Forestry is, by its very nature, a long-term investment and those who are able to take a long-term view can see past the current restrictions, where the drivers for forestry growth are still as strong as ever,” he added.

Restrictions on travel for prospective buyers of forestry has led to a slowdown in sales, however Mr Dean said one sale is due to complete at the end of the month and his company had a number of new instructions.

He added: “I think that there’s been a pause for breath in terms of the market but long-term I don’t see this crisis having a big impact on forest values.”