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.
Registering post-1989 forest land before 31 December 2022
Applications to register land in the ETS must be approved by Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service by 31 December 2022 if you want to:
- claim New Zealand Units for the 2018–2022 mandatory emissions return period
- have the option of using stock change accounting.
Averaging accounting will apply to land registered from 1 January 2023. Applications to register land can take around 6 months to process and are processed in the order they are received, so should be submitted as soon as possible.
To help forecast the volume of applications, anyone who is considering registering post-1989 forest land in the ETS is asked to complete a brief survey on their intentions.
Before you start
You should consider registering for our ETS online transaction system if you have not done this already. This will let you submit 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
You should review aerial imagery resources and check your land is eligible before you apply to register it in the ETS.
Focus on aerial imagery from 31 December 1989 or very close to this date. We use other sources of imagery as-required, including regional councils, local councils, and private companies.
Information to support your application
Land can enter the ETS only 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.
Follow the steps to register post-1989 forest land
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 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 Interested party consent form.
Download the Interested party consent form [PDF, 300 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). These 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. You will have to 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:
- 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 a shapefile. This is 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 apply 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.
To register online, use MPI's ETS online system.
Register by mail
- your completed application
- all supporting documents
- your application fee
- an electronic shapefile of your land.
Before submitting your application you may want to get independent advice on registering in the ETS.
To complete registration, you'll need:
- land details, such as certificates of title or Māori Land Court reference(s)
- evidence that the forest is eligible, such as:
- 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. An authorised representative can make decisions relating to your ETS participation for your forest land, so 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, 310 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.
How to request an emissions ruling
Emissions rulings provide an official determination on matters relating to the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). They are often used to check if land would be eligible for registration as post-1989 forest land if it was planted. This means that you can check eligibility before making the investment.
They can also be used to determine:
- if pre-1990 deforestation would occur if an area of forest was cleared
- how ETS regulations would apply in specific circumstances.
Emissions ruling application form and guide [PDF, 287 KB]
Emissions ruling fees
You need to pay a fee to apply for an emissions ruling. The amount of the fee is on the application form. The fee covers up to 4 hours of work on the application. If more time is needed to make a ruling, you will be charged more.
Processing time for emissions rulings
There is no set timeframe for Te Uru Rākau – New Zealand Forest Service to issue an emissions ruling outcome. It usually takes us between 4 and 8 months.
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:
- Spatial Intelligence Policy and Process Overview: Post-1989 land eligibility assessments [PDF, 151 KB]
Find out more
- Download a fact sheet about joining the ETS [PDF, 256 KB]
- Glossary of terms used in the ETS (factsheet) [PDF, 287 KB]
- Climate Change Response Act 2002 – NZ Legislation
- Climate Change (Forestry Sector) Regulations 2008 – New Zealand Legislation
- Fees and charges for forestry in the ETS
Who to contact
If you have any questions about registering your forest:
- email email@example.com
- call 0800 CLIMATE (0800 25 46 28) and select option 2.