Willis Towers Watson has exclusively backed True North European Real Estate Partners to raise £30m (€33.6m) for a new UK forestry fund.

True North said its Forestry Carbon Sequestration (FCS) Fund – a fund dedicated to re-forestation impact investment – has achieved its fundraising target at launch supported by the investment firm.

The £30m fund has been created with a co-investment sidecar allowing it to scale up if larger investments are available, the manager said.

The fund will focus on woodland creation, acquiring agricultural land across the UK to develop as commercial forestry.

True North was launched last year to focus on environmental and socially motivated real asset strategies.

True North founder, Harry Humble, said: “Creating value from ESG led strategies that deliver meaningful returns is central to our investment philosophy at True North and the launch of the FCS fund put us in a strong position to respond to investor appetite for opportunities that lead on environmental impact alongside financial returns.

“We have been fortunate to have found in Willis Towers Watson a major investor leading on ESG investment but also able to work with an emerging manager through the establishment of a maiden fund.”

Douglas Crawshaw, head of EMEA real estate manager research at Willis Towers Watson, said: “True North brought this fund strategy to us early and it fitted well with our desire to deploy capital to emerging trends in real asset space that create value out of ESG led investment.”

James Jackson, True North CIO and fund manager said: “A move from grazing to forestry requires a fundamental change in land ownership and is not a decision that can be made lightly – for landowners or investors.

“This will not be the squares of monoculture sitka spruce of the past; instead sensitive ecological designs will ensure that planting is right for the area in which it is situated and local stakeholders are engaged in that design.”

Jackson said the fund will focus on land acquisitions and moving each site through design and planting to an establishment phase requiring ongoing management to nurture the crop to maximise both its timber crop yield and the associated carbon sequestration.

To read the digital edition of the latest IPE Real Assets magazine click here.