Deforesting forest land

If you deforest pre-1990 forest land that hasn't been granted an exemption or offset, you need to tell MPI. You also need to pay for any emissions you create through deforesting the land. Follow our step-by-step process to make sure you meet your obligations.


What is deforestation?

Deforestation has a specific definition in the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). Land is considered deforested when forest is cleared and:

  • the land is no longer used for forestry, or
  • replanted or regenerated forest species don't meet certain criteria within set timeframes.

Deforestation: definition and obligations under the ETS [PDF, 235 KB]

Your obligations when deforesting pre-1990 forest land

You must follow the steps for deforesting when clearing pre-1990 forest land unless you:

  • meet the criteria below for stocking and growth thresholds, or
  • are deforesting only small areas of land (up to 2 hectares in any 5-year period commencing from 1 January 2008), or
  • are clearing land for best practice forest management (see section 179A(1)(a) of the Climate Change Response Act), or
  • have an exemption, or
  • MPI has approved your application for an equivalent forest (offsetting forest land) elsewhere.

Deforestation obligations when pre-1990 forest land is sold

When pre-1990 forest land is transferred after the land has been cleared, deforestation obligations depend on the land's status at the time of transfer.

If the land was:

  • deforested before the transfer date – the former land owner must meet the deforestation liability
  • transferred while temporarily unstocked – the new owner must meet the deforestation liability if they do not replant, or if the land does not regenerate as forest within set timeframes.

Stocking and growth thresholds

Forest land that has been cleared will be classified as deforested if it doesn't meet specific criteria 4, 10 and 20 years after clearance.

Four years after clearing, the land must have either:

  • been replanted with at least 500 stems a hectare of forest species
  • regenerated a cover of at least 500 stems a hectare of exotic forest species
  • been replanted with at least 100 stems a hectare of willow or poplar species (used to manage soil erosion), or
  • predominantly regenerated indigenous forest species, growing at a rate that suggests the land is likely to be forest within 10 years.

Ten years after clearing, the land must have predominantly:

  • exotic species growing, with a tree cover of at least 30% from trees with the potential to reach at least 5 metres high, or
  • indigenous forest species and be forest land.

20 years after clearing, the land must have:

  • predominantly indigenous forest species growing and at least 30% of trees 5 metres high.

Your obligations when deforesting post-1989 forest land

If you're deforesting post-1989 forest land registered in the ETS, you must:

  • tell MPI by completing the relevant forms
  • pay any units owed
  • remove the deforested area from the ETS.

Who to contact

If you have questions about deforestation:

Last reviewed: | Has this been useful? Give us your feedback
Feedback