MAF opens second round of wilding tree exemptions

15 December 2010

Landowners clearing wilding trees established before 1990 have a second chance to apply for an exemption to the deforestation rules under the Emissions Trading Scheme.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has opened a second round of exemptions from the ETS rules where landowners are clearing tree weeds. The deadline for applications is 31 March 2011.

Tree weeds are species defined as pests under a local pest management strategy or in the Climate Change Response Act, for instance Pinus contorta.

MAF Sustainable Programmes Director Clive Lilley says the second round was opened because the cap on carbon credits available to offset tree weed deforestation was not reached. The tree weed exemption applies to clearance from 2008 to 2012.

To need an exemption, the trees in the area in question must have been established before 1990. The forest area must be more than two hectares, and must meet the definition of forest land in the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Mr Lilley says the exemption stays on the land, regardless of change of ownership.

"Clearance can mean any activity that kills the tree, including felling, spraying, harvesting, burning or destruction by a natural cause. A 100 percent kill rate may not be always achieved as tree weeds can be difficult to eradicate."

More information:


Media contact:

Iain Butler, Senior Communications Advisor, MAF Policy, Phone: 04 894 0471, Mobile: 029 894 0471, Email:

Background information: pre-1990 forestry and tree weeds

Pre-1990 forest
Pre-1990 forest is land that was in forest on 31 December 1989 and was in predominantly exotic forest on 31 December 2007.

‘Forest’ means the land is in tree species capable of reaching 5m in height and more than 30 percent canopy cover.

Native forest established before 1990 is not pre-1990 forest for the purposes of the Emissions Trading Scheme.

Pre-1990 forest is what New Zealand’s Kyoto Protocol baselines are based on, so any deforestation needs to be accounted for by landowners, by surrendering carbon credits.

‘Deforestation’ means a change of land use – for example converting forest to farmland. Harvesting is not deforestation, so long as tree species are replanted or allowed to regenerate.

Tree weeds
Tree weeds are trees with a tendency for ‘spreading vigour’ - typically wilding conifers. Tree weeds will be listed on a local pest management strategy or under the Climate Change Response Act. A full list of tree weeds is in MAF’s Guide to tree weed exemptions

Tree weed exemption
The tree weed exemption recognises that some pre-1990 forest land is undesirable, and for ecological reasons should be removed. The government has set aside a certain amount of carbon credits which it will surrender on behalf of landowners who generate carbon emissions by clearing tree weeds.

Applications are open for deforestation of tree weed forest from 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2012 (Commitment Period 1 under the Kyoto Protocol). This includes clearance that has already occurred.

Applications are rated on a number of criteria which establish the tree weed status of the land in question, and will help prioritise applications in the event there are more applications than carbon credits available.

More background information
More detail is available in the Guide to pre-1990 allocation and exemptions and the Guide to tree weed exemptions.


Last Updated: 19 January 2011

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