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When you apply to join the ETS with post-1989 forest land, you must include a digital map (known as a shapefile) to show which areas are included in your application. You can prepare this map yourself or hire someone to do this for you.
Either way, you must ensure that the mapped areas are eligible to join the scheme.
Ineligible land cannot enter the ETS as post-1989 forest land.
It’s not advisable to include ineligible areas in your application to register land in the ETS. If we find areas of ineligible land in your map, we’ll remove them. This may delay the processing of your application.
If we can’t verify that the land in your application is eligible, it cannot enter the ETS.
TIP: CONSIDER GETTING SOME HELP IF THE ETS IS NEW TO YOU
If you are new to the ETS, you could hire a forestry consultant to advise you about the eligibility of your land. They will also ensure that the land is mapped to the requirements in the standard for mapping in the ETS, the Geospatial Mapping Information Standard.
You may also appoint someone as your representative to complete ETS tasks for you. Some consultants can complete your mapping for you.
To ensure the shapefile submitted with your application includes eligible land, make sure you understand:
- the size and cover requirements to be considered eligible forest land in the ETS
- what is considered post-1989 forest land
You must also make sure you are entitled to register in the ETS with this land – as an owner, or holder of a registered forestry right or lease.
When you map your forest for your application, leave out any areas that aren’t eligible.
If you’ve owned the land for some time, or established the forest yourself, it may be obvious where the eligible areas of forest are. The information below may still be useful to you because it explains where to find information that you can include with your application.
If you’ve recently bought or inherited land with existing forest, or signed a land agreement, the history of the forest and the land may not be so clear. You can work this out by:
- finding out about the history of your land
- using aerial photos or satellite images
- sourcing other information.
Working out whether land is eligible to enter the ETS can be tricky in some situations. Consider hiring a consultant to help you. Some consultants can map the land and create shapefiles for you too.
Find out the history of your land
To find out if an existing forest is eligible to enter the ETS, you’ll need to know the history of the land. For each area of your forest, you’ll need to find out enough information to check whether the forest is likely to be post-1989 forest land, or not.
The table below sets out the sort of information you’ll need, and how you can use it.
|What you need to know||What you can use this information for|
The calendar year that the forest was first established (when it was planted or first managed so that forest species would regenerate).
Showing the forest was first established after 31 December 1989.
What the land was used for immediately before the forest was first established.
Showing that the land was not forest land immediately before the forest was established (for example, it was used as grazing land).
How the land was managed over time before the forest was established.
Showing that the land was managed so that it wasn’t forest land before the forest presently on your land was established. For example, if the land was fenced and used for grazing, or there was spraying to control scrub.
Being able to show how the land was managed before the forest was established can provide crucial evidence with your application that the land is eligible.
What was on the land over time since 31 December 1989. Was any forest present in the same location before the forest presently on your land was established?
If there was forest in the same location years ago, the land may still be eligible.
The definition of post-1989 forest land lists situations when land previously used for forest may be eligible.
Using aerial photos and satellite images to help determine history of land
If you’re not sure about the history of your land, one of the easiest ways to check is by looking at old aerial photos or satellite imagery.
If you can find photos or images showing how the land was used over time, you can often fill in some of the information missing from the table above. These can provide crucial evidence to show that land is eligible to enter the ETS.
There are publicly available free-to-use sources you could use, including:
- the Retrolens Historical Image Resource
- Google Earth Pro
- LINZ Data Service and LINZ Basemaps.
This is not an exhaustive list, and you can use other photos and images available to you. You could also try your regional and district councils. Some councils may have aerial imagery available on their website. There are also private aerial imagery companies around New Zealand. It's worth contacting them to see what they have available.
Retrolens Historical Image Resource
The Retrolens website contains a collection of aerial photos provided by local government organisations. It’s free to use and contains detailed, high-resolution images. Some of this imagery may be detailed enough to show new planting rows or other vegetation that isn’t visible in other images from the past.
The images haven’t been georeferenced – meaning they aren’t oriented to north and they don’t have any map coordinates.
Google Earth Pro
You may have used Google Maps in a web browser or on your mobile phone. It usually shows the latest satellite imagery. Google also have an app, Google Earth Pro, where you can see older images.
You can download Google Earth Pro directly onto your computer.
Follow the prompts that appear in the web browser. You will be asked to accept some terms and conditions and to download a file. The name of the file will be:
- GoogleEarthProSetup.exe if you are on a PC
- GoogleEarthProMac-Intel.dmg if your computer is a Mac.
To install Google Earth Pro on your computer, double click on the downloaded file and a window will pop up called "Install Google Earth". Follow the instructions to install Google Earth Pro.
Once you’ve opened Google Earth Pro (it may open automatically after you have installed it), zoom in to display your property in the window.
You can view older satellite images to see how the forest cover changed over time by clicking the Historic Imagery button at the top of the window. A time slider will display in the upper-left corner of the map.
Screenshot of Google Earth Pro task bar
TIP: CONSIDER HIRING AN EXPERT
Sometimes old imagery can be difficult to make sense of, even for experts. For example, young trees may not be visible, or the image could be black-and-white or blurry (low resolution).
Even if you or someone working for you checks the available images of your land, we cannot guarantee that your interpretation of them means the land is eligible. If in doubt, it’s a good idea to hire someone with expertise in assessing ETS land eligibility.
LINZ Data Service and Basemaps
The Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) Data Service website has the latest source of aerial photos for your region. The LINZ Basemaps website has aerial photos and high-resolution satellite images.
These datasets are orthorectified – meaning any landscape features distorted in the original photos have been corrected (this happens when the photos are taken at an angle). These photos and images are georeferenced, meaning they are oriented to North and have map coordinates (New Zealand Map Projection, NZTM). You can download images from the LINZ Data Service to submit with your application.
These photos and images may be useful for:
- showing that your forest has reached the required crown cover to be considered eligible to enter the ETS
- preparing maps of the boundaries of your forest land to include with applications to the ETS.
Sourcing and using other information to work out land eligibility
It’s not always clear from aerial photos or satellite images that the land is eligible.
You can use other available information to check and show the land is eligible including:
- photos and videos, from the ground or from a drone
- documentation, such as stand records, seeding orders, planting invoices, inventory reports
- RMA consent documents
- paperwork showing how you managed the land before it was forest, for example, spraying receipts.
You should show, if you can:
- when the forest was first established
- what was on the land before the forest was planted or left to regenerate
- the tree species on the land
- the potential for the trees to reach the required height of 5 metres or more
- the potential for the crown cover to reach more than 30 percent.
For example, recently planted trees or native forest regeneration are often not visible from the air for the first 5 years. This makes it very important to provide supporting information to show the land is eligible. If we can’t see that the land is eligible from the information available to us, we may decide the land in the application is ineligible to enter the ETS.
When we receive and assess your application, we will check whether the land is eligible to enter the ETS using:
- the supporting information that you provide with your application – this can include all of the types of information above, including downloaded images
- satellite images and aerial photos available to us, taken from the 1980s onwards
- other relevant datasets that we hold.
All information submitted with your application should:
- relate clearly to the land in the application
- be legible
- be authentic, and
- be dated by year, and month if possible.
You can upload copies of your supporting information into our ETS online system, Tupu-ake, when you lodge your application.
Uploading or sending large files
Let us know if you need to send us files larger than 25MB. We will then send you a link to a secure file upload system.