Permanent Forest Sink Initiative

The Permanent Forest Sink Initiative (PFSI) is one of the government's sustainable forestry programmes. It enables landowners to receive carbon units through the creation of permanent forests. Find out if you are eligible and how to apply.


17 December 2018 – Decision to discontinue the PFSI

The Government has announced decisions to:

  • discontinue the PFSI
  • introduce a new permanent post-1989 forest activity into the NZ Emissions Trading Scheme. This will replace the current PFSI.

Current participants in the PFSI will not be adversely affected by the discontinuation of the PFSI. Te Uru Rākau will contact these landowners to advise them about their options, including support to transfer into the new ETS permanent forestry activity.

Decisions to reduce barriers

These decisions enable a change to the way owners of permanent forests can access New Zealand Units for the carbon stored in their forests. They are intended to greatly reduce barriers to establishing permanent forests by:

  • making permanent forest a more attractive and viable option. It will be easier for participants to benefit financially from the carbon stored in their forests
  • simplifying the administration of permanent forests for participants and the Government
  • aligning the administration of carbon crediting for permanent forests with other types of forest registered in the ETS
  • increasing the amount of permanent forest registered in the ETS to reduce the incentive to deforest
  • making it easier for rotation forests to transition into permanent forest (for example, if they prove unsuitable for harvesting).

These changes resulted from reviews of the PFSI and the ETS between 2015 and 2018.

Find out more

26 July 2017 – NZ ETS review announcement

On 26 July 2017, the Government made announcements resulting from stage II of the New Zealand Emission Trading Scheme (NZ ETS) review. As a result, Ministers will receive officials' advice on a package of forestry decisions by mid-2018.

This advice will include options to align the administration of the PFSI with the Climate Change Response Act. This was a clear recommendation following the ongoing PFSI review. Aligning the legislative changes needed with work emerging from the NZ ETS review makes operational sense.


MPI is considering changes to the Permanent Forest Sink Initiative (PFSI). A consultation on the proposed changes ran from 6 July 2015 to 14 August 2015.

Forests must be permanent

PFSI promotes the establishment of permanent forests on private land.

It offers owners of forests established in 1990 or later the opportunity to earn emission units for the carbon absorbed by their forests. Forests may be either exotic or indigenous species, including indigenous forests that have naturally regenerated since 1990.

To be eligible, the forest must:

  • be permanent
  • be established after 1 January 1990
  • be directly human induced (by planting, seeding, or promotion of natural seed sources)
  • not consist of more than 5 hectares of land that was cleared on or after 1 December 2007, which contained naturally occurring indigenous trees.

PFSI participants enter a covenant with the Crown, which is registered against their land title(s). The covenant is in perpetuity, with the right to terminate after a minimum term of 50 years. Landowners are responsible for establishing and maintaining the forest. Limited harvesting is allowed on a continuous cover forestry basis.

Registration and other forms for landowners

Alternative to Emissions Trading Scheme

The forestry scheme in the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) is an alternative to the PFSI. Landowners should also consider their options under the ETS.

Calculating carbon stocks by field measurement approach

The field measurement approach (FMA) is a method for calculating carbon stocks for forests. FMA is compulsory for all forest owners with 100 hectares or more in either the ETS or PFSI.

Government reviewing the initiative

The government is reviewing the PFSI to look at ways to improve the scheme and increase participation.

A 2015 consultation began on 6 July 2015 and closes 14 August 2015.

Find out more

If you have questions about the PFSI:

Keep informed with the Sustainable Forestry Bulletin

The 'Sustainable Forestry Bulletin' keeps people with an interest in forestry informed. Topics include carbon forestry and forestry in the ETS.

Template for electronic map (GIS shapefile) of a forest sink area

Templates for use with geographic information system software:

Last reviewed: