Deforestation in the ETS
If you deforest pre-1990 forest land that hasn't been granted an exemption or offset, you must tell us and pay for any emissions you create through deforesting the land. To do this, you must submit an emissions return between 1 January and 31 March in the year following deforestation. Follow our step-by-step process to make sure you meet your obligations.
Deforestation has a specific meaning in the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). There are two situations when land is considered deforested after forest is cleared.
- The forest is removed and the land is converted or used for something else. For example, the land is developed for pasture, housing, or another non-forestry use.
- The land is not replanted or regenerated with forest species that meet certain criteria within set timeframes.
Removing pre-1990 forest is not deforestation in some circumstances, if:
- you replant the forest or allow forest to regenerate, and this new forest meets the criteria below for stocking and growth thresholds, or
- you are only deforesting small areas of land up to 2 hectares in any mandatory emissions return period (the current period is 1 January 2018 to 31 December 2022, the next is 1 January 2023 to 31 December 2025), or
- you are clearing land for best practice forest management (see section 179A(1)(a) of the Climate Change Response Act), or
- you have an exemption that allows you to remove your forest without any obligations, or
- we have approved your application for planting an equivalent forest elsewhere (offsetting forest land).
Who has obligations when deforesting pre-1990 forest land
When pre-1990 land is deforested, usually the person(s) who owned the land at the time must notify us and submit an emissions return.
In some circumstances, a person who didn’t own the land may be responsible. This happens if
- the landowner made a formal arrangement to give the right to decide to deforest to someone else, and
- the landowner also had no control over the decision to deforest.
You are responsible even if you did not voluntarily register your forest into the ETS.
If the land was sold recently
If pre-1990 forest land is deforested before it is transferred to new ownership, the former land owner must meet the obligations for deforestation. They must notify us about the deforestation and submit an emissions return.
If pre-1990 forest land is transferred while it is temporarily cleared, the new owner is responsible for the deforestation obligations if:
- they do not replant, or
- they replant but the forest will not meet the required stocking and growth thresholds in time, or
- the land does not regenerate naturally as forest to the required stocking and growth thresholds within set timeframes.