Mapping forest land in the ETS

You need to provide a map when registering or adding post-1989 forest land to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). You'll also need to submit mapping information when deforesting or creating an offset forest for pre-1990 forest land. Learn about the mapping process and requirements.

Mapping post-1989 forest land

Post-1989 forest land must be mapped into "carbon accounting areas" (CAAs). CAAs are the basic area used to track changes in carbon stock. You will earn or pay New Zealand Units (NZUs) based on changes in the carbon stocks of each CAA.

You can choose how many CAAs you want to create when you map your forest land.

What you need to know about CAAs

  • A CAA must be at least 1 hectare.
  • You can group discrete polygons (areas of land) into a single CAA.
  • To simplify your future carbon accounting, you may choose to include CAAs with the same age, species, and management plans.
  • If your harvesting plans aren't fixed, it may be better to create smaller CAAs, to give yourself more flexibility. Larger CAAs may create more work for you when filing emissions returns, or selling or transferring land.

Mapping options

To map your land, you can use:

  • MPI's online mapping tool, accessed through our ETS online transaction system
  • your own (or a forest consultant's) geographic information system (GIS), or
  • existing digital forest maps, such as those held by forest owners or managers.

How to map your land

To map forest land for the ETS you need to follow 4 steps.

1. Create or access a detailed image of the land to be entered into the ETS. This should:

  • be an aerial photo or satellite image that has been specially prepared for use in mapping (orthophotography, or orthorectified satellite imagery)
  • show enough detail that you can map forest boundaries
  • be in the NZTM2000 map projection.

2. Define the edges of the forest land over the base image by drawing polygons. For post-1989 forest land, you'll need to assign a carbon accounting area (CAA) number.

3. Add attributes to the forest land shown on the map. Attributes include the forest type and the planting/establishment date.

4. Submit this information to MPI in an electronic map file (saved as a shapefile).

Specific requirements for ETS maps

You must meet mapping requirements set out in these documents:

Geospatial Mapping Information Standard [PDF, 348 KB]

Climate Change (Forestry Sector) Regulations 2008 (Regulations 6, 7; Schedule 5) – NZ Legislation

Need more help?

For detailed information on mapping land for the ETS, including how to use the online mapping tool, see:

How to map forest land in the ETS [PDF, 1.4 MB]

A guide to mapping forest land for the ETS [PDF, 787 KB]

Submitting your map to MPI

Maps must be submitted as shapefiles. If you don't have the software to create shapefiles, you can use MPI's mapping tool to create a map. This option is only available if you apply online.

What is a shapefile?

A shapefile is a format used to present geographic information electronically. It's made up of a set of files that provide information about land features, location and attributes, as well as the map specifications.

Submitting a shapefile

You can either:

  • map your land using the online tool in MPI’s online ETS system
  • upload your shapefile as part of the online application process, or
  • supply a shapefile when submitting a paper application.
Register to use MPI's ETS online system

If you're not registered to use MPI's ETS online system, you'll need to:

  • be registered with the government online identification service RealMe
  • set up a login and password.

If you don't have a RealMe account, you'll be given the option of setting one up when you go to log in.

Who to contact

If you have any questions about mapping forest land for the ETS

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