To offset your pre-1990 forest land deforestation, your application must be approved
You may be able to deforest your pre-1990 forest land without paying New Zealand Units (NZUs or units) if you apply to offset it by planting another forest. There are a few steps to complete when applying. These include calculating how much carbon is in the forest land you want to deforest and how much carbon the offsetting forest will store.
Your application must be approved before you deforest the land. There are criteria that must be met for land to be used as offsetting land.
You can hire a consultant or appoint a representative to help you with your application.
Preparing your application
When preparing an application to offset pre-1990 forest land, there are some calculations you need to do. For your application to be approved, you must show that the forest you intend to plant is expected to store the same amount of carbon as the pre-1990 forest land.
Step 1: Calculate how much carbon is in the pre-1990 forest you intend to deforest
To find out how much carbon the offsetting forest needs to store, you must calculate how much carbon is stored in the pre-1990 forest land. This is calculated for the “baseline date” and will be the amount of carbon you need to offset with the new forest. The baseline date is:
- the date the application is submitted, if all the pre-1990 forest land still has trees growing on it with over 30% crown cover, or
- if you’ve already started clearing the pre-1990 forest land, the date you started clearing.
This is the date you must use when you work out the age of the trees to calculate how much carbon is in the forest land. There is a specific way you must calculate how much carbon is in your forest, using tables that give the amount of carbon in forest land per hectare.
Step 2: Work out the rotation period for your pre-1990 forest
The forest you plant must be expected to store at least the same amount of carbon as the pre-1990 forest, within the usual rotation period of the pre-1990 forest.
In the ETS, tree species are grouped into forest types. Pre-1990 forest land can be 1 of 5 forest types. Each of these has been assigned a usual rotation period in the legislation. This is the length of time 1 rotation (harvest cycle) usually takes:
- radiata pine: 28 years
- Douglas-fir: 47 years
- exotic softwoods: 40 years
- exotic hardwoods: 21 years
- native (indigenous): 50 years.
For example, if you deforest a pre-1990 forest containing mostly radiata pine, the offsetting forest must be expected to store the same amount of carbon by the time it’s 28 years old.
If there’s more than 1 forest type on the area of land, they will have different rotation periods. You must use the shortest period out of the forest types on the land.
Step 3: Calculate how much carbon the forest you plant will offset
You must show that the forest you plant is expected to offset the amount of carbon released, by the required age. This age is equal to the number of years in the usual rotation period defined in the legislation. This is explained in step 2.
Using the carbon tables for pre-1990 forest land, you must calculate how much carbon will be in a forest:
- of the forest type you’re planting
- at the required age
- in the region you’re planting, if the forest is radiata pine
- of the area you plan to plant.
This will give you the amount of carbon emissions that the forest will offset. This must be equal to or more than the amount of carbon in the deforested area. If it’s less than this amount, you must increase the planting area in your application.
Submitting an application to offset pre-1990 forest land
To apply to offset the deforestation of your pre-1990 forest land, you must submit an application. Upload the completed application form to our online system Tupu-ake – Forestry ETS online services, or email it to ForestryETS@mpi.govt.nz
Apply to offset pre-1990 forest land [PDF, 663 KB]
On the form, you must provide:
- details about the forest you plan to clear
- details about the forest you plan to plant
- the calculated amount of carbon in the forest you're clearing
- the amount of carbon the forest you plant is expected to store.
You must also submit digital maps of the land you're clearing and the land you're planting. These are called "shapefiles". You or a consultant can create a shapefile.
We must process your application before you finish deforesting the pre-1990 forest land.
If the pre-1990 forest land and the offsetting land are owned by different people, both sets of landowners must sign the application.
Responsibilities if your application is successful
If your application is approved, you must provide an update 4 years later. This update is to notify us of the status of:
- the forest land you planned to deforest
- the offsetting forest you planned to plant.
Find out more
Who to contact
If you have questions about forestry in the ETS:
- email ForestryETS@mpi.govt.nz or
- call 0800 CLIMATE (0800 25 46 28) and select option 2.