Registering post-1989 forest land

Forest owners and those with registered forestry rights or leases over post-1989 forests can earn carbon credits by joining the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). We've created a step-by-step process to help you register forest land in the scheme.

Before you start

If you're not already set up, you should consider registering to use our ETS online transaction system. This will enable you to submit some information online.

To register, you'll need to:

  • have a RealMe account (RealMe is the government's online identification service)
  • set up a login and password.

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

ETS online system user guide  [PDF, 955 KB]

Access aerial imagery resources

Prior to lodging an application to register land into the ETS, we recommend you review aerial imagery resources that are available online and check that your land is eligible. 

Download a list of imagery resources [PDF, 225 KB]

Focus on aerial imagery as at 31 December 1989, or very close to this date. Note MPI uses other sources of imagery as-required. These sources vary from regional and local councils to private companies.

Information to support your application

Land can only enter the ETS if we can verify the species, density, location, and age of your forest.

To do this we need you to provide good information such as photos and video.

Information to support your application [PDF, 428 KB]

Follow the steps to register post-1989 forest land

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Step 1: Get consent
Get consent from those with a registered interest in the land.

Before you register as a participant in the ETS, you'll need written consent to join from certain people or organisations that have an interest in the land or forest.

  • If you're a landowner and there is a registered forestry right or registered lease over the forest land, you'll need to get written consent from holders of the registered forestry right or registered lease.
  • If you're the holder of registered forestry right or registered lease, you'll need written consent from the landowner.

Written consent must be provided using the prescribed form – Interested party consent.

Download the interested party consent form [PDF, 251 KB]

Step 2: Open a holding account
Create an account with the New Zealand Emission Trading Register.

Carbon credits in the ETS are called New Zealand Units (NZUs), and are stored and transferred through the New Zealand Emission Trading Register (NZETR). To receive NZUs from the government for your forest, you'll need a holding account with NZETR.

You'll earn NZUs as carbon stocks in your forest increase, and pay units to the government if your forest's carbon stocks decrease – for example, when you harvest your forest.

Use the correct account name

The holding account name must be the same as that of the participant(s) you intend to register. The name or names must be the same as all those appearing on land titles, or on registered forest rights/leases. Check the NZETR guide for more information.

You can check all names at Land Information New Zealand or Māori Land Online.

Step 3: Map your forest
Create an electronic map of the forest land you want to register.

You must include an electronic map of the forest you want to register (forest land map). Forest land maps must meet requirements set out in the Geospatial Mapping Information Standard.

Download the Geospatial Mapping Information Standard [PDF, 348 KB]

Create a forest map

To create a forest land map, you can use either:

  • MPI's online mapping tool, accessed through our ETS online system
  • your own (or a forestry consultant's) geographic information system (GIS), or
  • your own existing digital forest maps – if they comply with the mapping standard.

If you submit your own map, it must be in the form of a shapefile (an electronic file type used in digital mapping).

Step 4: Apply to register as an ETS participant
Submit your application to MPI online or by post.

If you are using MPI's online mapping tool, you must apply online.  Otherwise, you can choose between applying online or by mail.

Remember, the name or names you want to register must be the same as those shown on the land title, or registered forest right/lease.

Fees apply.

Register online

To register online, use MPI's ETS online system.

Register by mail

Send MPI:

  • your completed application
  • all supporting documents
  • your application fee
  • an electronic shapefile of your land.

Download the application to register as an ETS participant [PDF, 563 KB]

You may want to get independent advice on registering in the ETS before submitting your application.

Application checklist

To complete registration, you'll need the following:

  • land details, such as certificates of title or Māori Land Court reference(s)
  • evidence that the forest is eligible. This can include:
    • forest maps showing the forest type and year of establishment
    • aerial or other photographs of the forest area dated around 31 December 1989
    • recent aerial or other photographs of the forest area if the forest has recently been established
    • planting contractors' invoices
    • consents issued under the Resource Management Act 1991.  
  • an electronic map of your forest (created using MPI's ETS online system or submitted as a shapefile (.shp).

Other forms you may need to submit

You'll need to submit extra forms if you are:

  • authorising someone to act on your behalf
  • an unincorporated body nominating someone to receive notices
  • registering more than one person as a participant in the ETS (you can complete this step when registering online).

Authorising someone to act on your behalf

You can authorise someone to sign documents, make enquiries and act as your representative.  Because an authorised representative can make decisions relating to your ETS participation for your forest land, you should carefully consider this authorisation. However, rights and obligations of participants under the Climate Change Response Act (2002) will remain with you, not the authorised representative.

Download the Approval of authorised representative form [PDF, 246 KB]

Your obligations under the ETS

If your registration is successful, you will have to:

  • submit a mandatory emissions return at the end of every mandatory emissions return period
  • measure your forest in accordance with the Field Measurement Approach if you have 100 hectares or more of registered forest land
  • report any changes to your ETS registration
  • pay back units if:
    • your carbon stock decreases
    • you deforest
    • you remove forest land from the ETS
  • notify MPI when the ownership of registered forest land changes, for example you sell your forest to another party. This includes when land is sold, a forestry right/lease is granted/expires, or when more than 40% of members of an unincorporated body (such as a trust) change.


Te Uru Rākau has published the following policies and processes to provide further clarity on how land eligibility assessments of post-1989 forest land and reviews of eligibility decisions are undertaken within the ETS:

Find out more

Who to contact

If you have any questions about registering your forest:

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