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

Applications for pre-1990 tree weed exemptions can be submitted from 1 July 2020

You may be eligible to apply for a tree weed exemption if you have areas of forest on your land which:

  • are primarily composed of naturally regenerating species classified as tree weeds
  • began regenerating prior to 1990.

This exemption allows the landowner to permanently remove these tree weeds and deforest the area without incurring liabilities under the under the ETS.

Applications for exemptions can be submitted between 1 July 2020 and 1 July 2021. Total exemptions granted for tree weed deforestation liabilities will be capped at an equivalent of 300,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions. Tree weed clearance must commence, if not already commenced, within 24 months from the date of notification of the exemption. Clearance must be complete before 31 December 2022.

Exemptions from deforestation liabilities are available for those forest species on pre-1990 forest land that:

  • are defined or designated as a pest in a pest management strategy under the Biosecurity Act 1993, or
  • are listed as a tree weed under the Climate Change (Forestry Sector) Regulations 2008.

Climate Change (Forestry Sector) Regulations 2008

Applications for a tree weed exemption are assessed according to:

  • the risk of distant seed dispersal due to site features
  • the risk of distant seed dispersal due to the characteristics of the tree weed species
  • land use within 2 kilometres, and the risk of spread into these areas
  • whether any areas of value (including natural, landscape, cultural, historical, economic, or recreational values) within 2 kilometres of the application site are threatened by tree weeds.

Priority will be given to applications with:

  • a relevant pest management strategy or Department of Conservation wilding tree management plan
  • evidence of future funding in a long-term council–community plan
  • a private or council-designed tree weed management plan
  • active community group involvement in tree weed management.

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
  • a less than 50ha exemption.

For more information please contact the Climate Change Contact Centre at climate.change@mpi.govt.nz

or call 0800 CLIMATE (254 628).

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 close on 1 July 2021.

Notice: Applications for exemptions of pre-1990 forest land with tree weeds [PDF, 168 KB]

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