When deforestation obligations don't apply

In certain cases, you don't need to meet deforestation requirements when clearing your forest land. Find out about exceptions to the deforestation rules.

Obligations when you deforest forest land

If you deforest forest land you may need to meet certain emissions trading scheme (ETS) obligations such as notifying MPI and filing an emissions return.

Find out about obligations when you deforest forest land

There are certain situations where these deforestation obligations don't apply.

When deforestation obligations don't apply

You do not need to meet deforestation requirements where:

  • forest clearance was due to a natural event that prevents re-establishing a forest – for example, where a river has changed course
  • less than 2 hectares (ha) of pre-1990 forest is deforested in any 5-year period commencing from 1 January 2008
  • the area of forest has been granted a tree weed or less than 50ha exemption
  • a pre-1990 forest land offsetting application has been approved, and the pre-1990 offsetting forest land has been successfully established (deforestation obligations will apply if the pre-1990 offsetting forest land is subsequently deforested)
  • the forest is not pre-1990 forest land (for example, is indigenous forest), or is post-1989 forest land that's not registered in the ETS.

Minor clearing on forest edges

You can clear land boundaries without this being treated as deforestation if the clearance is:

  • for an area of less than 1ha, or less than 30m wide, and
  • in line with best practice for forest management, such as establishing a firebreak or improving visibility on forest roads.

You will need to keep a record of any minor clearance work.

Exemptions from deforestation obligations

Owners of less than 50 hectares

Landowners who had less than 50ha of pre-1990 forest on 1 September 2007 could apply to be exempt from deforestation obligations. If MPI granted an exemption, this would have been recorded on the land title.

Applications for this type of exemption closed in 2011, but MPI can consider late applications in certain situations.

If you have questions about this exemption, email climatechange@mpi.govt.nz

Download the deforestation exemption (less than 50ha) application [PDF, 265 KB]

Tree weed exemption

Tree weeds can spread and damage the recreational, ecological, or economic value of nearby land. To ensure landowners aren't deterred from clearing tree weeds, the ETS allows exemptions.

If pre-1990 forest on your land is mostly naturally regenerating species classified as tree weeds, you may be eligible for a tree weed exemption. An exemption allows you to deforest without being liable for emissions from deforestation. Tree weed species are listed in Schedule 7 of the Climate Change (Forestry Sector) Regulations 2008.

List of tree weeds – NZ Legislation website

You can't apply for a tree weed exemption if, on the same area, you have received:

  • an allocation of New Zealand Units (NZUs) under the Pre-1990 Forest Land Allocation Plan, or
  • a less than 50ha exemption.

Find out more

Managing tree weeds and the ETS – guide [PDF, 563 KB]

Tree weed exemptions – fact sheet [PDF, 212 KB]

A guide to tree weed exemptions [PDF, 1.1 MB]

How to apply for an exemption

Download and complete the 'Apply for a tree weed exemption' form. Send your completed form with the other required information (including geospatial mapping) to the address on the form.

Download the Apply for a tree weed exemption form [PDF, 381 KB]

Deadline for applications

Exemptions are valid during specific 5-year periods. Applications for the latest application round closed on 30 June 2019.

Notice: Applications for exemptions of pre-1990 forest land with tree weeds [PDF, 161 KB]

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