Forestry in the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme
The NZETS classifies forestland into two distinct categories based on when they were established and has rules and obligations associated with each:

Pre 1990 Forest Land

  • Exotic forests established prior to 1990
  • Forests established on land that was cleared of native vegetation / scrub and Planted in exotic forest species,
  • Harvested and replanted exotic forest land If you have any of the above you may be automatically included into the NZETS and must replant after harvest.
  • The deadline to apply for a Pre 1990 Free Allocation or a Less than 50 ha exemption has now passed.

Deforestation of Pre 1990 Forest Land
Under the NZETS clearing of Pre 1990 forestland and changing the land use out of forestry will result in the forestland being classified as deforested.  In most situations units will need to be repaid equal to the amount of carbon those trees had stored at the time of clearing.  The New Zealand Emissions unit registry places restrictions on the type of units that can be repaid, currently NZU’s, ERU’s, CER’s and AAU’s are able to be used.  
Once an area has been classified as deforested then the pre 1990 encumbrance can be removed.
FMNZ can assist in filing deforestation applications with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI)
For further information please phone our Napier office 06 843 3770 or visit

Post 1989 Forest Land
  • Exotic and Indigenous Forests established on bare land post 1989, or
  • Pre 1990 Forest land that was deforested prior to 2008 or
  • Pre-1990 forest land that was deforested on or after 1 January 2008, and where any liability has been met.
Registering with the emissions trading scheme is not mandatory, joining is totally voluntary. The government retains credits and associated liabilities. If you do not register with the ETS you are free to change land use without incurring liabilities

Key points / obligations:
By joining the ETS, the forest owner is able to create a regular income stream through the sale of carbon credits without having to wait until harvest.
  • Either the forest owner (forestry right) or land owner can join – both must agree
  • Subject to land eligibility criteria
  • Can earn NZU’s (tradable only in New Zealand carbon market) or AAU’s (Tradable internationally)
  • There are no harvesting restrictions, however carbon credits claimed will need to be repaid at harvest (harvest liabilities).
  • Carbon credits can be claimed annually between 1st January and 31st March of each calendar year
  • Your minimum requirement is to file a mandatory emissions return at the end of each commitment period to account for changes in carbon stocks
  • You are required to open a New Zealand Emissions Unit Register holding account (this is where carbon credits are transferred to when a return is filed)
  • You are required to re pay any liabilities incurred for losses in claimed carbon stock e.g. Harvesting, Fire, Major storm events
  • The sale of carbon credits is zero rated for GST, Income tax is only payable on the sale of credits not on credits claimed.

How we can help you!!
At Forest Management NZ LTD (FMNZ), we have followed the development of the NZETS legislation, as well as the beginning of carbon trading in New Zealand. The services we offer include:
  • No Obligation discussion on the NZETS rules and how they affect you and your forest
  • Post 1989 Forest NZETS registration
  • Supply of MPI compliant shape files and NZETS forest mapping
  • Preparation and submission of your Emission Returns
  • Establishment and costing for new NZETS Post 89 forests
  • Field Measurement Approach Plots
  • Deregistration of forests from the NZETS and arranging purchase of ERU’s
  • Advice and completion of MPI deforestation applications for pre 1990 forest land

The friendly FMNZ staff knew exactly what I was looking for from the get go and answered any questions I had in detail. Their excellent service exceeded my expectations and made the whole experience extremely worthwhile. Click here for more testimonials

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