Data snapshot: Top 10 shifts as timberland index branches out

There have been significant changes in the rankings of the largest owners and managers of North American forests in recent months... and more are likely in store.

The timberland asset class has continued to perform strongly this year, with the Forisk Timber REIT index posting a 5.61 percent rise since the beginning of 2018. That comes after a superb 2017, during which forestry-focused trusts returned an average 22.41 percent. That begs a question: who’s been pocketing the gains?

An answer lies in rankings that look at the largest owners and managers in the asset class. On this front, the industry is due an update, if only because recent changes to the way Forisk configures its rankings has resulted in two players climbing the ladder. The consultancy now accounts for forestry assets held in Canada; that makes J.D. Irving, a corporate investor, the second-biggest owner, while Acadian finally rejoins the top 10.

But there are other changes. The February merger between Potlatch and Deltic Timber has narrowed the gap between the combined entity and Sierra Pacific, number four in the ranking. Green Diamond’s acquisition of 380,000-acres from Twin Creeks Timber propels it to number six. Meanwhile, CalPERS, currently ranked seven, could soon drop from the top 10 altogether, should it find a buyer for the 1.1 million acres in Texas it is trying to sell.

There is more stability in the manager table. The main change, Forisk points out, is the promotion of Wagner Forest Management from number 10 to number 3, once its 1.3 million acres in Nova Scotia and Ontario are factored in.