Influences on Land Valuation Formulation: Research Briefing

Research output: Book/Report/Policy Brief/Technical BriefResearch brief


What were we trying to find out?

Land prices in Scotland took at dramatic upward turn around 2019-21. This was partly due to the interest in natural capital markets, as the Scottish Government introduced ambitious plans for reaching Net Zero and significant financial incentives to pursue Nature Based Solutions to carbon sequestration.

We were interested to find out whether the means in which land values are determined had changed due to this changing landscape.

What did we do?

We interviewed land agents and valuers operating across Scotland and asked about their approaches to valuing land, particularly land with the potential for Nature Based Solutions for carbon sequestration. These expert opinions were collected over two years (November 2022 - February 2023 and December 2023 - February 2024) and in total 38 interviews were conducted (21 in 2022-23, 17 in 2023-24).

What did we learn?

Land agents considered that the general approach to valuing land for agriculture and forestry remained consistent. Nevertheless, the price of land has changed dramatically over the last five years, reflecting changing investment demand and wider market conditions.

A key driver of change has been an increase in demand for land for tree planting, meaning that plantability has become a highly significant factor in determining land values, particularly for hill land. Land values have also been influenced by various external market factors notably interest rates, inflation, timber prices and carbon credits which have impacted investment demand and therefore the value of sales in the market.

The potential to monetise land through carbon credits has been another key strand within this picture, creating a new use case for valuation. While carbon was noted as a strong influence on the market, agents commonly took a cautious view on the reliability of carbon price forecasting. The influence of carbon is strongest for hill land and is particularly relevant to the valuation of Scottish Estates. Agents reported that the plantability and the extent of degraded peat have replaced sporting metrics when assessing the value of upland estates.

What do we recommend and what happens next?

We will continue to monitor developments across the land market and report on changing dynamics. Subsequent briefings are scheduled in 2024.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherSRUC's Rural Policy Centre
Commissioning bodyScottish Government
Number of pages25
Publication statusPrint publication - 28 Mar 2024


  • land values
  • valuers
  • land agents

Rural Policy Centre Themes

  • Land use and land reform


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