Buying, selling, or transferring ETS forest land

You need to tell MPI if you're buying, selling, or transferring post-1989 forest land registered in the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). People buying pre-1990 forest land must be aware of ETS obligations they may face if they convert forest land to another use. Find out what you need to do.

Buyers should check land title for Climate Change Response Act notices

Under section 195 of the Climate Change Response Act 2002, the status of land affected by the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) must be recorded in notices registered on the land title. Anyone buying forest land should check the title for these notices.

Land status notices are registered on land titles when:

  • post-1989 forest land is registered in the ETS
  • pre-1990 forest land:
    • has received an allocation of New Zealand Units (carbon credits)
    • was declared exempt from ETS obligations
  • pre-1990 forest land offsetting is approved by MPI.

A land title can have more than 1 notice. The notices can refer to different areas in the land title, and can be for different reasons.

Land can be pre-1990 forest land without there being a notice on land title records. Anyone looking to buy forest land should conduct due diligence in case the land has obligations under the ETS.

If you have any questions about land status notices:

Post-1989 forest land

Participants in the ETS must tell MPI of changes that affect their participation in the scheme. This includes:

  • sale of land
  • succession (such as inheritance)
  • any single transaction that changes more than 40% of the members of an unincorporated body (e.g. changing trustees of a trust)
  • the granting, expiration, transfer, or termination of a registered forestry right or registered lease, including granting of cutting rights.

Fees and charges may apply.

Fees and charges

Changing ETS participation

If the participant changes through any of the transactions listed in the table below, you'll need to complete a transfer of participation form and submit an transmission mandatory emissions return. There are different forms depending on the type of transfer.

Since 1 January 2021, a new process is in place for transferring participation when registering a forestry right or lease on a land title. Where the landowner is the current ETS participant, the transfer of ETS participation following the granting of a forestry right or lease now requires opting in. ETS participation only transfers from the landowner to the forestry right holder or lessee if they both agree to this. Participants must opt in before the forestry right or lease is registered on the land title. To do this:

  • both parties must agree in writing (for example, as part of the forestry right or lease agreement), and
  • the landowner must notify Te Uru Rākau in writing (using the opt in form).

Download the Opt-in participation form

If a forestry right or lease is granted and an opt in participation form has not been submitted, the landowner will remain the ETS participant with all associated ETS obligations.

Transfer form to use when changing ETS participation

Existing ETS participant Action New ETS participant Type of transfer form to use
Landowner Granting forestry right or lease Registered forestry right or lessee (if opted into by the new participant)

Opt in participation form (must be submitted before the forestry right or lease is registered)

Transfer of participation (transfer)

Transferring post-1989 forest land (including sale, succession, or any single transaction that changes more than 40% of members of an unincorporated body such as a trust) New landowner Transfer of participation (transfer)
Registered forestry right or lease holder Transferring registered forestry right or lease to another party (including sale and any single transaction that changes more than 40% of members of an unincorporated body) New forestry right or lease holder Transfer of participation (transfer)
Expiry or termination of registered forestry right or lease Landowner Transfer of participation (expiry/termination)

 

Completing a transfer of participation

In the case of succession, no transfer of participation form is required but a transmission mandatory emissions return must be submitted.

Within 20 working days of any other type of transfer, both the existing and new ETS participants must complete a transfer of participation form to tell MPI of the transfer. There are 2 types of transfer form – check the table for the one you'll need.

Download the Transfer of participation (transfer) form [PDF, 480 KB]

Download the Transfer of participation (expiry/termination) form [PDF, 511 KB]

If you apply to join or leave the ETS, or add or remove land from the ETS, you must notify any "interested parties".

If you are the landowner you must notify any person with a registered forestry right or lease over the land.

If you are the holder of a registered forestry right or lease you must notify the landowner. If it has an interest in the land you must also notify the Crown.

Adding or removing ETS forest land

Submitting an emissions return

If you are transferring forest land registered in the ETS, you'll need to submit a transmission mandatory emissions return to calculate the change in carbon stock of your forest. This determines whether you will pay or receive New Zealand Units (NZUs).

The emissions return must be filed within 20 days of the date of transfer.

Download the Mandatory emissions return (transmission) form [PDF, 457 KB]

Find out more about emissions returns

More information about your responsibilities when transferring ETS-registered land is in our land and forest transactions factsheet.

Land and forest transactions factsheet [PDF, 242 KB]

Selling or transferring pre-1990 forest land

The former and new land owner/holder of a forestry right or lease both need to understand their obligations when pre-1990 forest land is sold or transferred. The land is still subject to ETS obligations after it changes hands.

If the land is cleared and converted to another use you may need to pay for any emissions created through deforesting the land.

Find out more

Climate Change Response Act 2002 – NZ Legislation

Climate Change (Forestry Sector) Regulations 2008 – NZ Legislation

Who to contact

If you have questions about changes your ETS registration or transferring land:

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