If you have successfully applied to offset your pre-1990 forest land
In the ETS, you must usually pay New Zealand Units (NZUs or units) when you deforest pre-1990 forest land. If you successfully apply to offset your pre-1990 forest land, you can deforest without paying units. However, you have other responsibilities, such as:
- planting a forest that is expected to store the same amount of carbon as the pre-1990 forest land, and
- reporting on your progress.
If you don’t successfully plant enough forest to offset your emissions, you’ll have a chance to apply to add more land.
The offsetting land must meet the definition of "qualifying forest land"
To offset your emissions, the land you plant on must become “qualifying forest land”. This is similar to the legal definition of forest land in the ETS, with some extra requirements specific to offsetting.
To be qualifying forest land, the land must:
- have forest species on each hectare that have crown cover of more than 30%, or be likely to in future
- have forest established by planting, rather than by regeneration, and
- be made up of areas of at least 1 hectare each, with an average width of at least 30 metres.
You must plant enough trees on the offsetting land to meet the requirements for forest land.
Find out more about the definition of forest land in the ETS
Reporting on your offsetting progress
You need to submit a notice (known legally as a P90 offsetting release criteria notice) to update us about the areas you deforest and the areas you plant. You must submit this notice within 60 working days of the “offset date”. This date is the earliest of:
- 4 years after the date your application is approved, or
- 4 years from when you start clearing.
In your notice, you must identify:
- areas of pre-1990 forest land from your original application that you've deforested or cleared
- any areas of pre-1990 forest land from your original application that you haven't deforested or cleared
- areas of the offsetting land from your original application that have become qualifying forest land
- any areas of the offsetting land from your original application that don’t meet the requirements for qualifying forest land
- any areas of the offsetting land that are qualifying forest land, but that you don't need to meet the offsetting criteria
- any areas of either kind of land where a natural event has permanently prevented forest from being established or re-established.
You must calculate how much carbon the forest will store, using only:
- the areas of pre-1990 forest land you’ve deforested, and
- the areas of offsetting land that meet the qualifying forest land requirements or are permanently damaged.
This is because you must show that the offsetting forest is:
- at least the size of the area you’ve deforested, and
- still expected to store as much carbon as the area you’ve deforested, to offset your emissions.
If either of these requirements aren’t met, you can apply to add more offsetting land when you submit your notice.
Calculating how much carbon is in pre-1990 forest land
If the pre-1990 forest land and the offsetting land have different owners, all landowners must sign the notice.
To submit your notice, complete the pre-1990 offsetting release criteria notice form. You must upload the form to our online system Tupu-ake – Forestry ETS online services, or email it to ForestryETS@mpi.govt.nz
Download the Pre-1990 offsetting release criteria notice form [PDF, 430 KB]
If the forest you plant doesn't meet the offsetting criteria, you can apply to add more land
You can apply to add offsetting land to your original application if your offsetting forest:
- doesn’t meet the size requirements (at least the same area of the deforested land), or
- isn’t expected to store as much carbon as the deforested area did.
You must apply to add more offsetting land as part of your pre-1990 offsetting release criteria notice.
There are 2 kinds of land that you can add to an offsetting application:
- Forest land planted less than 2 years before the original application date that is on its first rotation and eligible to be post-1989 forest land.
- Excess land from a previous pre-1990 or post-1989 offsetting application, as long as it’s within 2 years of the previous application’s offset date.
To be eligible, the additional land must also be qualifying forest land.
Find out the requirements for qualifying forest land
If your application to add offsetting land is approved
If we approve your application, the additional land becomes part of the offsetting area.
The additional land may already be registered as post-1989 forest land in the ETS. If so, it stops being post-1989 forest land when it becomes offsetting land. ETS-registered post-1989 forest land will have a “unit balance”. This is the net total of units allocated to that forest land. If post-1989 forest land becomes offsetting land, you must pay back units to the amount of the unit balance.
If you have more offsetting land than you need
You may find that you don’t need the whole area you planted to offset the deforested pre-1990 forest land. For example, if you’ve deforested less land than planned, a smaller area of offsetting land will be enough to store the amount of carbon you need.
You can identify areas of land as "excess". You must do this when you submit your offsetting release criteria notice. This forest land will not count towards offsetting the deforestation.
You can reuse excess land in another application. The excess land must be used in a new application within 2 years of the offset date. This can be used for:
- a new application to offset pre-1990 forest land
- an application to add land to an existing offsetting application for pre-1990 forest land, or
- a new application to offset post-1989 forest land.
If you don’t want to reuse the land in another application, you can identify it as "non-ETS land". This land is removed from the offsetting area. Non-ETS land can be entered into the ETS as post-1989 forest land.
Find out more
Find out what you need to do when you deforest pre-1990 forest land
Find out more about the criteria for offsetting pre-1990 forest land
How to apply to offset pre-1990 forest land by planting another forest
Find out what happens if you decide to deforest your offsetting 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.