Timberland valuation: Current theory and practice in Estonia and Sweden (Civil Project)

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In some countries forests are state or community owned and there is no market for forest land. However, in many countries timberland can be privately owned and thus there exists an active market for it. In Estonia and Sweden private timberland ownership is very high, 54% and 66% of the total timberland area respectively. Since property transactions in general require valuations, the need for timberland valuations is high in these countries.

There are several timberland valuation approaches discussed and analysed in timberland valuation literature. Three of the most prominent approaches are the income approach, the sales comparison approach and the cost approach.

Although timberland valuation is well-founded in theory, it is often rather different in practice. The timberland valuation methods as well as the underlying assumptions in the methods can vary significantly across countries and regions. The dissimilarities and confusion in timberland valuations are, at least to some extent, related to the circumstance that existing valuation standards comprehend very little guidance regarding timberland appraisal.

The thesis in hand is a comparative case study, in which the same interview questions were asked from several timberland appraisers in Estonia and Sweden in order to find out how timberland is appraised in these countries.

It was found that the timberland valuation approaches used within a country are rather similar, but differ when comparing Estonia with Sweden. The assumptions used in the valuation approaches vary between countries as well as across companies within a country.

In Estonia 3 the appraisers use only the income approach to value a timberland, while in Sweden the appraisers use both the comparable sales approach and the income approach. There are, however, substantial differences in the way the income method is carried out in each country. In Sweden the appraisers use the income approach, to a great extent, in accordance with scientific literature, which cannot be said about the Estonian appraisers.

The main differences in the income approach across the countries are the future cash flow treatment, the premerchantable timber value treatment and the length of the time period in the income approach. Along with many other details about timberland valuation practises in Estonia and Sweden, the study also found that none of the appraisers are using the uncertainty intervals in their valuation reports.

The consistency and solidarity of Swedish timberland valuation practice results from the existence of the guidelines and recommendations along with the valuation program provided by the National Land Survey of Sweden. Latter is a clear sign of the importance of valuation standards and guidelines.
Source: KTH
Author: Rebane, Martin | Kolga, Martin

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