THE Church Commissioners have spent almost £50 million buying 15
forests across Scotland and Wales in a bid to make their investment
portfolio more sustainable.
The forests, bought from the timber company UPM Tihill, amount
to 6922 hectares of productive woodland, equivalent to almost 1000
football pitches. The portfolio also includes wind farms and a
The investment manager for the Commissioners, Chris West, said
in a statement announcing the purchase on Friday of last week that
the Commissioners had spent five years buying up forests across the
UK, the United States, and Australia. In the UK alone, they now own
£100million-worth of forestry.
The head of responsible investment at the Commissioners, Edward
Mason, said: "The Commissioners are delighted to be adding to their
low-carbon investments with this further significant investment in
Last week, the Commissioners announced plans to put pressure on
BP and Shell to do more to combat climate change (News, 12
December). A shareholder resolution will be filed at each
company's annual general meeting next year with the support of
other ethical investors.
In February, the General Synod passed a motion that urged the
Church of England's investing bodies to align their investment
policies with the Church's position on caring for the planet (Synod, 14
One part of the new forests bought in Scotland includes 300
hectares of new woodland planted on land previously used for
The Commissioners' statement said that this development was
playing a large part in attempting to meet the Scottish
Government's aim to create 6000 hectares of new forestry.
Three years ago, the Church was dragged into a political battle
over a government proposal to sell off state-owned woodland. The
then Archbishop of Canterbury and Bishops of Gloucester and
Guildford signed an open letter to the Sunday Telegraph
that described the plans as "unconscionable" and "ill-conceived"
28 January 2011).
Commissioners praised. A study on best practice
among ethical investors has named the Church Commissioners as one
of the best examples in the business. The study, Good with
Money: Why charity investments matter, was released on Tuesday
by the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations.
The Commissioners are commended for the detailed information on
their ethical-investment policy which is contained in their annual
The report was commissioned after an investigation by the BBC's
Panorama into charity investments last year.