The Climate Change Response Act 2002 (the Act) was amended in 2008 to introduce the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) as the country’s primary policy to address climate change.
The Climate Change (Forestry Sector) Regulations 2008 (the Regulations) contain most of the forest-related regulations that support the Act. They have been updated six times since their introduction, and were last amended in September 2016.
Forestry was the first sector included in the ETS, with the definition of two ‘categories’ of forest land:
(i) Pre-1990: forest land that was first established before 1 January 1990 and which was predominantly exotic species on 31 December 2007.
(ii) Post-1989: forest land established after 31 December 1989 on previously non-forest land, or pre-1990 forest land that was subsequently deforested and met any ETS obligations.
The owners of pre-1990 forest land are liable to surrender eligible units if that land is deforested.
Owners of post-1989 forest land may elect to join the ETS and earn NZUs for the carbon stored as their forests grow, but once registered must also in most cases surrender units if the carbon stock decreases.
The changes outlined in this document relate only to the forestry sector regulations. As outlined above, they will address deficiencies with the current regulations, simplify processes and reduce risk. These changes are independent of other policy changes that may occur following the NZ ETS review, which we expect will be consulted on later in 2018.