Launching a fund during lockdown may not sound like the easiest thing, but that is exactly what True North Real Estate Partners did, with Redwood supporting the ESG investor in profiling the Forestry Carbon Sequestration Fund (FCS Fund) to investment press, as well as the farming and agricultural press that is integral to the fund’s operations.

The closed-end FCS Fund is dedicated to re-forestation impact investment and achieved its £30 million equity target at launch exclusively supported by investment firm Willis Towers Watson. You may have spotted coverage in IPE Real Assets and Funds Europe in June, as well as specialist press, such as Agri Investor, Farming UK and Farming Online.

True North was set up in 2019 by real estate capital markets veteran Harry Humble in response to increasing institutional investor demand for opportunities leading on environmental and social impact. Key to Redwood’s communications support was crafting narrative around this ESG approach, putting together meaningful soundbites from spokespeople that were tailored for institutional investment press and farming titles respectively.

The FCS Fund is focussed on woodland creation through acquiring agricultural land across the UK to develop as Forestry Stewardship Council compliant commercial forestry. This ecologically beneficial forestry planting is the central element to reaching the fund’s 1.65 million tonne carbon sequestration target.

Decades old constraints on timber production in the UK have impacted on current and future supply, resulting in heavy reliance on oversees imports. The future for UK timber assets is underpinned by the convergence of a structural supply shortage with long term demand growth particularly as construction fundamentally changes moving to less polluting components.

Land is being identified that would be suitable for the transition from upland grazing to woodland, with the FCS Fund working with landowners looking either to reduce the parts of their holdings that are more challenging for agriculture or retiring from the industry entirely. The move from agriculture, often with a volatile but regular income, to the much longer return horizons of forestry investment requires a change in the type of investor holding this land.