National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry
The National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry (NES-PF) provide nationally consistent regulations to manage the environmental effects of forestry. Find out more about the NES-PF.
On this page:
- About National Environmental Standards
- NES-PF now available
- Objectives of the NES-PF
- How the NES-PF works
- Tools to help councils and foresters
- Flexibility for local environments
- Implementing the NES-PF
National Environmental Standards (NES) are regulations made under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) and:
- set out technical standards, methods or requirements relating to matters under the RMA
- provide consistent rules across the country by setting planning requirements for certain specified activities.
An NES prevails over district or regional plan rules except where the NES-PF specifically allows more stringent plan rules.
The National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry (NES-PF) were published on 3 August 2017 and came into force on 1 May 2018.
Resource Management (National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry) Amendment Regulations 2018 (which include changes to the Erosion Susceptibility Classifications) were published on 26 April 2018 and commenced on 1 May.
- NES-PF regulations – NZ Legislation website
- NES-PF regulation amendments 2018 – NZ Legislation website
- Material incorporated by reference in the regulations
The NES-PF objectives are to:
- maintain or improve the environmental outcomes associated with plantation forestry activities
- increase the efficiency and certainty of managing plantation forestry activities.
The objectives are achieved through a single set of regulations under the RMA that apply to foresters throughout New Zealand.
Why an NES for forestry activities
Councils previously managed the environmental effects of forestry activities through regional and district plans. As a result, the rules varied between and within regions. Sometimes these variations reflected local differences and community priorities. But where they didn't, it caused problems for the many forest owners who manage forests in 2 or more regions or have forests that straddle council boundaries. The variation resulted in:
- increased costs
- uncertainty about the plan rules they must follow.
The variations in rules also led to inconsistent environmental outcomes.
The NES-PF provides a consistent set of regulations for plantation forestry activities. It covers 8 core plantation forestry activities, allowing these to be carried out as permitted activities, subject to conditions to manage potential effects on the environment.
Where it isn't possible to manage these effects – for example, the site is at high risk of erosion and needs greater controls – the activity requires resource consent.
The NES-PF regulations cover 8 core plantation forestry activities that have potential environmental effects:
- afforestation (planting new forest)
- pruning and thinning to waste (selective felling of trees where the felled trees remain on site)
- river crossings
- forestry quarrying (extraction of rock, sand, or gravel within a plantation forest or for operation of a forest on adjacent land)
- mechanical land preparation
The NES-PF applies to any forest of at least one hectare that has been planted specifically for commercial purposes and will be harvested.
Conditions to manage potential environmental effects
The regulations are based on good forestry practices.
Some examples of the conditions under the NES-PF regulations are:
- setbacks when planting next to rivers, lakes, wetlands, and coastal areas. These unplanted strips protect against erosion and sedimentation from afforestation
- management plans for earthworks, forest quarrying, and harvesting activities to identify environmental risks and how they'll be managed
- identification and maintenance of storm water and sediment control measures for forestry activities.
If forest operators can meet the conditions, the activity is permitted. If not, they must seek a resource consent from their council.
Councils may charge for monitoring
Councils will be able to charge to recover the costs of monitoring permitted activities that require a management plan (harvesting, earthworks, and forest quarrying) and river crossings. These permitted activities have a higher risk of environmental effects if foresters don't comply with conditions.
If councils choose to set a charge, they'll need to comply with the requirements of the RMA and the Local Government Act. These include:
- a public consultation process
- having clear links between any charges and the activities being charged for
- establishing charges covering reasonable costs.
This is the same process councils must currently use to charge for issuing and monitoring resource consents.
The NES-PF regulations use several science-based tools to help council staff and foresters plan and manage forestry operations.
The NES-PF recognises the need for flexibility to protect sensitive local environments. Regional and district councils plans can be more stringent to:
- manage their unique and sensitive environments such as geothermal areas and drinking water supplies
- protect significant natural areas and outstanding natural features and landscapes
- give effect to other national RMA mechanisms like the:
- National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management
- New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement.
While the NES-PF covers the core forestry activities, there are other activities that are still covered by plan rules.
The NES-PF will require changes to the way councils manage plantation forestry activities under the RMA. Councils and the forestry sector will need to understand the regulations. To help groups adjust to the changes, the NES-PF had a 9 month implementation period from when they were published to when they commenced.
During this time MPI provided support through a series of NES-PF introductory workshops to make sure foresters and councils:
- understand how the regulations will work in practice
- transition to the new rules.
A second series of scenario-based workshops are taking place in May 2018 to further forester and council knowledge of the NES-PF.
Get updates on upcoming NES-PF materials and events by subscribing to plantation forestry updates on our website.
Guidance to support NES-PF implementation
MPI has developed guidance to support implementation of the NES-PF. The guidance is targeted at regional councils, territorial authorities, and the forestry industry as the primary users of the NES-PF.
References that are part of the NES-PF regulations (material incorporated by reference) are listed in Schedule 2 of the regulations. They include information that helps foresters understand the rules that apply to them.
- Erosion susceptibility classification
- Guidelines for the use of the Decision Support System "Calculating wilding spread risk from new plantings"
- Flood estimation – a revised design procedure
- Technical Memorandum 61, A method of estimating design peak discharge
- Estimation of mean annual flood in New Zealand
- NZS 6801:2008 Acoustics – Measurement of environmental sound
- NZS 6802:2008 Acoustics – Environmental noise
- Conservation status of New Zealand birds (2016) [PDF, 601 KB]
- Fish Spawning Indicator
- New Zealand freshwater fish sampling protocols
- DIN 4150-3: 1999-02 Structural vibration – Part 3: Effects of vibration on structures
- ISO 4866:2010 Mechanical vibration and shock – Vibration of fixed structures – Guidelines for the measurement of vibrations and evaluation of their effects on structures
- Introduction to monitoring freshwater fish
- A revised methodology to survey and monitor New Zealand mudfish
Find out more
- Minister's announcement of NES-PF – media release
- Consultation and development of the NES-PF
- Resource Management (NESPF) Regulations 2017 – Cabinet paper [PDF, 1.2 MB]
- Revised Policy Proposal for the National Environmental Standard for Plantation Forestry – Cabinet paper [PDF, 1.4 MB]
- A National Environmental Standard for Plantation Forestry - Regulatory Impact Statement [PDF, 13 MB]
- Enabling councils to charge for monitoring permitted activities under the NES-PF – Regulatory Impact Statement [PDF, 904 KB]
- Proposed NES-PF: Section 32 evaluation [PDF, 1.1 MB]
- Proposed NES-PF: report on submissions and recommendations [PDF, 1.2 MB]
- Plantation forestry economic analysis, revised for proposed NES [PDF, 2.2 MB]
- NES-PF evaluation of effectiveness on environmental outcomes [PDF, 1.3 MB]
- Assessment of the implications of changes to the draft NES-PF [PDF, 1.2 MB]
- NES-PF presentation [PDF, 8.3 MB]
Who to contact
If you have questions about the NES-PF:
- email firstname.lastname@example.org
- phone 0800 00 83 33 (select option 3).
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