The Laughing Crow is a moniker whose voice I borrow: a rascal who is abrasive but honest, curious, and outgoing.
It's a dream for many people to have a plot of land to retire to, away from the hustle and bustle from the city. Unfortunately, such a plot costs a lot of money and will whittle away at your savings while you live and work in the city. By the time you will have the opportunity to retire there, you may not even have seen that place for quite some time.
Some people invest in a piece of agricultural land with, or with plans to build, a small farmhouse and practice smallsteading. This way they live on the land and also gain some financial benefit from it. But doing so means living further away from the city, and not everyone's willing to compromise on their amenities.
Instead, consider investing in a plot of forest, which is often cheaper per acre than farmland, yet offers a number of intriguing business prospects that you can take advantage of at any phase in your life.
Creating a Hiking Route on Your Land
Setting up a hiking route requires a small initial investment, but it will give you a platform from which you can start other business initiatives. The key to setting up a good hiking path is to offer different views, varying degrees of incline, and a pattern that is a circle or even better a figure 8. This will allow people to easily return to their point of origin. Marking the trail itself can be as easy as spraypainting a color on the trees, and you can also make the roads easier to follow by cleaning them up and covering them in gravel.
If you are living in a country where private land allows you to charge for admissions, you could set up a membership program for people who want to hike the trail, and give them the option of recording their time, or perhaps uploading pictures to a community pinboard.
While the income from this is likely not a lot, the trail itself also offers you the option of starting other businesses, such as a small lunchroom, cottage rentals or the like.
Preservation Funds and Key Biotopes
With the threat of climate change, many initiatives have started to safeguard the world's forests, as they represent a lot of storage capacity for CO2. If you are a forest owner, you can check with your local government, as well as overarching government agencies, about opportunities to gain funding and subsidies based on key requirements.
For example, it's possible you could get a subsidy if you have a protected species in your forest, or if you offer to add plenty of bee boxes for wild bees. Additionally, you may offer to minimize lumber activities in your forest, and attempt to convert it to a primal forest again. This may limit some other activities, but the subsidies may payback for the forest in their entirety!
Forest Management and Lumber
Agroforestry and lumber are the heavy hitters when it comes down to monetizing a forest plot. Depending on the specific plan you have made, for which you'd best make an appointment with the forestry department near you, following a time of planting a new section of forest is a period of thinning.
By thinning the wood you remove some of the trees that are competing with each other, insuring that the remaining trees grow larger. This thinning supplies a small number of lumber, which when sold can cover part of the costs of owning and upkeep.
Every few decades, areas of the forest can be cut, where large trees are taken down to be turned into lumber. This is your big paycheck, and usually a single good harvest on a plot can pay back double on the cost. However, you also need to reseed the plot, perhaps placing back saplings, in order to keep the forest alive and profitable in the future.
By being judicious in your cutting, you can achieve a moderate profit from lumber, while still maintaining a healthy forest for a hiking route or cottage rental.
Hunting and Fishing Rights
Depending on your country or state, hunting may be a protected activity, where you as the owner of the land can offer hunting rights to people interested in doing so. By setting up healthy quotas, you can ensure that the numbers of hunted species remain stable. Deer, elk, and duck are especially prized inhabitants for this form of monetization.
Mind you that you need to ensure that the species is culled in a healthy manner, so that they do not overrun the area, but also are not hunted down completely. Additionally, you need to ensure that hunters under your license behave responsibly and present clean kills.
Hunting licenses cost a lot, because they do not include the rights to the activity, but also the prey. Wild game is an expensive and healthy meat choice, which means you can charge a good fee for that right.
The same goes for fishing rights if your land includes a stream or lakeside.
Start a Cottage Rental
Whether you want to monetize the land through lumber or hunting, you can also offer accommodation in the form of renting out cottages. Ensuring that the cottage is easy to reach, has electricity and (preferably) WiFi will allow you to charge a healthy weekly fee from prospective holiday-goers, hunters and hikers.
To have a good ratio between price and comfort, it pays to install plumbing and dig a well, because people do not appreciate having an outhouse. There are plenty of places to advertise a cottage, such as Airbnb, holiday, and hiking fora.
While running a cottage rental will take a bit more of your time, it will be very profitable if you have good reviews and can offer a good experience at a reasonable price. What is important is that you take guests' feedback into account and treat it like a business, not a cash pony.
A forest is more than a piece of land; it's an ecosystem that provides produce (through hunting and lumber), hospitality (through cottage rentals) and support for the future (through its ecological benefits and subsidies to stimulate paying attention to that).
When you are doubting whether or not to buy a forest and take the plunge, always ask your bank what they think of it, and seek a mentor in someone who's already owned a forest for some time. They will be able to give you the long and short of it, especially on how to select the best forest for your preferred form of monetization.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2019 Lolcrow