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Satisfying long-term investment in Latvia

Birch. Photo: Ulrika Lagerlöf

Photo: Ulrika Lagerlöf

An investment in forest land in Latvia can be both profitable and sustainable if the buyer has a long-term perspective. Anders Olsson is one of many Swedes who have invested in forest in Latvia.

Anders Olsson. Foto: Per Bergenheim

Anders Olsson

“I feel it offers a good return in the long run, and it’s also an investment that gives a lot of pleasure,” he says.

Forest has always been his great interest, and has many years’ experience of owning forest in Sweden alongside his career in the SEB bank. When the opportunity came up to invest in forest in Latvia, he saw its potential to generate return… and in an enjoyable way.

“There’s a lot to do with the forest there. Personally, I see it as a green investment and an opportunity to reforest land and generate return, while also doing something for the rural area. This makes it a very satisfying type of investment,” says Anders Olsson.

Help with investment and management

He was well aware that buying a forest property in Latvia would require help in terms of investment and management. Skogssällskapet, which has been helping investors buy and manage forest properties in Latvia since the early 2000s, was a natural partner.

“Skogssällskapet has helped me with just about everything, from finding the right property to investing in and managing the forest,” he says.

For Anders Olsson, owning forest is a long-term investment, and he has strong views on how he wants his land to be planned and managed. Most of his property comprises land that has not been in production, and his objective is to reforest the land by planting species such as birch, spruce, larch and pine.

“I hope to develop the forest in close collaboration with nature, and that takes time, we’re talking about rotations of 40 years. It’s a future that I won’t be around to experience, but someone in the future will benefit from it. This is why it feels extra important to have a forest manager that listens and understands my goals, and I think that Skogssällskapet does just that.”

Consultation and joint decision-making

Anders Olsson says that the collaboration with Skogssällskapet worked well from the very start, and today they have an ongoing agreement under which Skogssällskapet handles everything relating to accounting, tax returns and legal issues. However, they have no fixed agreement on management and long-term planning of the forest. Instead, such matters are handled continually through consultation and discussions.

“Skogssällskapet handles purchases, sales and land exchange. After that, they just do what you want them to do. They draw up a plan for how the forest can be managed, but I usually have a lot of input.”

Anders Olsson was very clear throughout the process that he does not want Skogssällskapet to take any decisions without consulting him. He always wants to be involved.

“I’m sure there are many different types of agreement and management structures depending on the forest owner’s goals, but I’m very engaged in my forest and always want to be involved in the discussions. It’s all about being active in the relationship, and then it works really well.”

In Sweden, Anders Olsson has enjoyed long collaboration with Södra, but he is very satisfied with his choice of Skogssällskapet as forest manager in Latvia.

“I’m sure there are both cheaper and more expensive forest managers to work with, but when you’re satisfied with one, there’s no reason to change. I have confidence in Skogssällskapet, and that’s what’s important.”

TEXT: Malin Letser