If you decide to deforest the land you've planted as offsetting land
In the ETS, you can apply to offset pre-1990 forest land by planting another forest. The land you plant on is known as "offsetting land".
The offsetting forest must be expected to store the same amount of carbon as the deforested area within the "usual rotation period". This is a length of time assigned by the ETS legislation, based on a normal harvest cycle for the forest type. The offsetting forest must continue growing throughout this time. Once the usual rotation period ends, the emissions from deforesting are considered to be offset.
Find out more about offsetting and the usual rotation period of the forest
After you plant your offsetting forest, you may decide to deforest it, or clear and replant. You may need to pay New Zealand Units (NZUs or units) for deforesting or clearing. The number of units you need to pay depends on when you clear or deforest.
Deforestation has a specific meaning in the ETS. Land is deforested if it is cleared and:
- used for something else (such as pasture), or
- isn’t replanted or regenerated enough to meet stocking and density requirements after 4, 10, or 20 years.
Find out more about what deforesting means in the ETS
Deforesting or clearing before the usual rotation period has passed
If you deforest the offsetting land, you must submit an emissions return.
If you clear the offsetting forest before the usual rotation period is passed, it’s treated as deforestation. This is the case even if you re-establish the forest straight away. You must submit an emissions return and pay units for clearing. This is because offsetting is based on the forest growing and storing carbon for a certain period of time. This period of time isn't complete yet.
In both cases, you must pay units for the amount of carbon in the initial pre-1990 forest. These are the emissions you initially applied to offset. These calculations are different to how you normally calculate carbon stock.
Contact us for assistance at ForestryETS@mpi.govt.nz
Deforesting after the usual rotation period has passed
If you deforest after the usual rotation period of the pre-1990 forest has passed, you must pay units. The number of units is based on the amount of carbon in the offsetting forest.
Once this period ends, the forest you've planted is treated as normal pre-1990 forest land. If you clear and replant, it isn't considered deforestation. You don't need to submit an emissions return as long as the forest is re-established.
If you deforest the land at this point, you must follow the normal process for deforesting pre-1990 forest land. This includes:
- telling us you're deforesting, and
- submitting an emissions return.
Find out what you need to do when you deforest pre-1990 forest land
Find out more
Find out more about pre-1990 forest land
Find out the criteria and rules for offsetting pre-1990 forest land
Learn more about your responsibilities when planting a forest to offset pre-1990 forest land
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.