To commemorate the International Day of Forests on 21 March, many activities will take place in France for the general public to discover and celebrate forests, trees and wood. At a time when the world’s largest green lung is under threat, investing in forests can help protect them.

The theme chosen this year by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) is “The Role of Forests in Ensuring Sustainable Production and Consumption”. With 8 billion tonnes of CO2 absorbed each year, according to the French National Forestry Commission, forests are the second-largest carbon sink on the planet.

Forests: our planet’s vital green lung

In France, no fewer than 70 million tonnes are captured each year. Thus, our forests are playing an active role in the fight against global warming. Their surface area – 17 million hectares in mainland France – has grown by 0.7% per year since 1985, according to the forest inventory conducted by France’s National Institute of Geographic and Forestry Information (IGN). 

Preserving forests is essential, but it is not enough. Reforestation and planting new forests are effective ways of combating global warming, especially when we select species that are resistant to this change. 

Of the 138 tree species found in the forests of mainland France, 6 deciduous and 4 coniferous species make up 82% of the stands. In addition to preserving biodiversity, the challenge is to adapt forests and make them more resistant to climate change.

Investing in sustainable forestry

Forests are threatened by clear-cutting, whose purpose is often to replant species that are more profitable or suitable for certain industries. However, there are forestry projects that respect biodiversity and the ecosystem. Investing in a forest and participating in its sustainable management allows you to fight against global warming and to offset your carbon footprint.

75% of French forests are privately owned. They belong to individuals or are administered by dedicated funds. This type of investment is becoming more democratic and is now more easily accessible to all budgets. 

How can an individual invest in a forest?

Three types of investments and ways of investing in a forest are available to individuals:

  • a direct purchase of wood and forests as a private individual, which is a long-term investment with a rather emotional dimension; 
  • purchasing shares in a “Groupement Foncier Forestier” (GFF) vehicle, which functions like a French real estate partnership, also known by the French acronym SCI;
  • or subscribing to a “Groupement forestier d’investissement” (GFI) vehicle, which allows the risks to be shared with other owners, as in a French real estate investment fund, also known by the French acronym SCPI.

Purchasing shares in a GFI entitles the holder to a tax reduction of 18% off the amount invested, up to a limit of EUR 5,700 for a single person and EUR 11,400 for a couple. 

It is a solution for diversifying assets without expecting a high return. Indeed, the price of wood fluctuates and forests, like any natural area, can be hit by a natural disaster, fire or epidemic.

CNP Assurances is committed to preserving biodiversity

With more than 57,000 hectares of woodland, CNP Assurances is France’s largest private corporate owner of forests.

La Société Forestière, a 50%-owned subsidiary of CNP Assurances, is in charge of managing this asset sustainably, respecting biodiversity and anticipating climate change.

As such, it regularly conserves ageing or dead trees which host a very specific biodiversity (more than a quarter of all woodland animal and fungus species). And since 2021, it has prohibited the substitution of a hardwood stand with an exclusively softwood stand.

The recent renewal of the management mandate assigned to Société Forestière provided for an action plan and biodiversity conservation objectives covering the next five years in a sustainable management charter.

This charter includes an inventory of potential biodiversity, with the aim of improving it through actions such as the conservation of microhabitats, the creation of ecological corridors, the cessation of forestry work during the reproduction periods of the most sensitive species, etc.

CNP Assurances is committed to measuring the biodiversity of 100% of its forestry assets and to setting aside 3% of the forest area for ageing plots and areas undergoing natural evolution by the end of 2025.