What pre-1990 forest land is
There are 2 aspects to consider when working out whether your forest is covered by the rules for the ETS.
First, to be considered “forest land” in the ETS, the forest must:
- cover at least 1 hectare in area
- contain species that can reach at least 5 metres in height when mature in that location
- have (or be expected to reach) crown cover of more than 30% in each hectare
- be at least (or expected to reach) 30 metres across on average.
Second, the forest must meet this ETS definition of “forest land” on these dates:
- 31 December 1989 and can be native and/or exotic forest species, and
- 31 December 2007 and the forest must contain mostly exotic tree species.
Land that was native or exotic forest on 31 December 1989 and was mainly native forest on 31 December 2007 is not pre-1990 forest land. It is not covered by the ETS.
Pre-1990 forest land and ETS rules
You cannot earn units for this type of forest. You may have to pay units if you deforest pre-1990 forest land.
If you deforest, or plan to deforest, pre-1990 forest land, you must either:
- let us know within 20 working days once the land is deforested, and in the following calendar year, prepare and submit an emissions return before 31 March and pay any units owing, or
- apply in advance to plant another forest to replace it (pre-1990 offsetting land), or
- apply for permission to clear the land without having to pay units – this is called an "exemption" and is only available in certain limited situations.
Find out more about your ETS responsibilities when deforesting pre-1990 land
Deforesting pre-1990 forest land without paying units
Learn about planting forest to offset the emissions from deforesting pre-1990 land
Tree weeds established before 1990
The spread of exotic tree weeds is an issue for many parts of New Zealand. Tree weed species include wilding pines and other wilding conifers.
List of forest species that are officially considered tree weeds in the Forestry ETS regulations
If tree weeds meet the requirements to be considered pre-1990 forest land, you could be liable to pay units if you deforest the land. However, you can apply to be exempt from the ETS liabilities for deforestation of tree weeds.
If you want to apply for an ETS exemption, you must do this before the land is considered deforested. Deforestation has a specific meaning in the ETS. The land is considered deforested if:
- the land is no longer forest land and is used for something else, for example, developed for pasture or another non-forestry use, or
- the land is cleared and not replanted or regenerated with forest species that meet certain criteria within set timeframes (4, 10, and 20 years after clearing).
Find out more about stocking and growth criteria after 4, 10, and 20 years to avoid deforestation
If your application for an exemption is successful, you will not be liable for paying units after you remove the forest.
Note, we may declare that the exemption has ceased if you don’t clear the tree weeds within 5 years of being given the exemption. If the exemption is ceased, you’ll be liable to pay units if you deforest land, unless you apply for another exemption.