Introduction to the National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry (NES-PF)

Find out about the National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry (NES-PF) and how they apply to your planting and harvesting plans.

About the NES-PF

The National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry (NES-PF) are regulations made under the Resource Management Act (RMA) 1991. The regulations provide a set of nationally consistent rules for plantation forests that cover 8 broad activities, from planting right through to harvesting. It’s important to understand these rules before you plant new forest.

The NES-PF is implemented by regional councils and district councils, so they’re your best port of call for understanding the rules that apply to forestry in your area.

What the NES-PF covers

The NES-PF regulations cover 8 core plantation forestry activities that have environmental effects which need to be managed:

  • afforestation (planting new forest)
  • pruning and thinning to waste (selective felling of trees where the felled trees remain on site)
  • earthworks
  • river crossings
  • forestry quarrying (extraction of rock, sand, or gravel within a plantation forest or for operation of a forest on adjacent land)
  • harvesting
  • mechanical land preparation
  • replanting.

The NES-PF applies to any forest of at least one hectare that has been planted specifically for commercial purposes and will be harvested.

If you’re planting new forest (afforestation)

If you’re planting forest of more than one hectare for harvest on your property, the NES-PF afforestation rules apply.

Most of the NES-PF rules are administered by regional councils, so contact your council to find out about:

  • the rules around where you can plant. When you’re planning your new plantation forest, you need to carefully consider its location and design to avoid long-term environmental, safety, and operational issues. For example, the NES-PF requires setbacks from waterways, paved roads, and dwellings
  • rules around ensuring the species you plant doesn’t result in wilding trees that impose costs on neighbouring landowners
  • whether resource consent is required for your forest. For example, afforestation in areas affected by erosion requires resource consent.

You need to provide written notice of tree planting to your regional and district council at least 20 days, and no more than 60 days, before the planned start date, including details of the proposed planting location, proposed setbacks from waterways, and the planned start and end date of planting.

NES-PF afforestation guidance [PDF, 187 KB]

If you want to harvest existing forest on your land

The NES-PF is administered by regional councils, so contact your council to find out:

  • the rules around harvesting. You need to mitigate against the potential environmental impacts of harvesting, including managing sediment and debris, felling away from waterways, and soil erosion post-harvest
  • whether resource consent is required for your forest.

You’ll need to write a detailed harvest plan for all harvesting operations. This plan ensures environmental and site-specific risks associated with harvesting are identified before you start, and are managed throughout the harvesting operation. You’ll need to ensure any ongoing effects on your land are managed. For example, you’ll need to ensure exposed soil is stabilised and forestry residues are safely managed.

You need to provide your regional council with written notice of where and when harvesting will be carried out at least 20 days, and no more than 60 days, before the planned start date. The council can request a copy of the harvest plan after notice of harvesting is given. In most cases the harvest plan must be in place at least 20 working days before harvesting begins.

NES-PF harvesting guidance [PDF, 174 KB]

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