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 converting forest land to another use. Find out what you need to do.

Buyers should check land title for ETS notices

Under section 195 of the Climate Change Response Act, the status of land affected by the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) must be recorded in notices registered on the land title. Before buying forest land, make sure to 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.

Even where there is no notice on land title records, the land – or part of it – may still be pre-1990 forest land. Anyone looking to buy forest land should conduct due diligence before purchasing, because the land may have 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. Fees and charges may apply.

Changing participant details

The form you need to change participant details depends on the change.

Transfer form to use when changing participant details

Existing ETS participant Action New ETS participant Type of transfer form to use
Landowner Granting forestry right or lease Registered forestry right or lease holder Transfer of participation (transfer)
Transferring post-1989 forest land (including sale, and 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)

Changing participant details

If the participant details change through any of the transactions listed in the table, you'll need to complete a transfer of participation and submit an emissions return.

From 1 January 2021, participation following the granting of a right or lease will be by opting in. This will need to be part of the lease or right agreement. You will need to notify the Environmental Protection Authority before it has effect.

Completing a transfer of participation

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

If you apply to join or leave the ETS, or add or remove land from the ETS, you must notify interested parties. This includes:

  • 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 and the Crown, if the Crown has an interest in the land.
Submitting an emissions return

If you are transferring forest land registered in the ETS, you'll need to submit a 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 after the date of transfer.

More information about your responsibilities when transferring ETS-registered land is in this factsheet:

Selling or transferring pre-1990 forest land

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

If the land is cleared and converted to another use, you may be required to pay for any emissions you create through deforesting the land.

Find out more

Who to contact

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

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