Emissions Trading Scheme

Forestry is important in helping New Zealand meet its international climate change obligations. By putting a price on greenhouse gases, the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) encourages landowners to establish and manage forests in a way that increases carbon storage. Find out how you can earn carbon credits through the ETS.


About the ETS

The New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) puts a price on greenhouse gas emissions. This encourages people and businesses to:

  • reduce greenhouse gas emissions
  • establish forests to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.

The primary unit of trade in the ETS is the New Zealand Unit (NZU), also called a carbon credit. One NZU represents 1 tonne of carbon dioxide (or the equivalent for other greenhouse gases).

  • Certain entities in the ETS that emit greenhouse gases must pay units to the government.
  • Entities that remove greenhouses gases, like those in forestry, can earn units from the government, which they can sell to companies that emit.

MPI administers the ETS for forestry, along with the Ministry for the Environment (MfE) and the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).

Forest owners and the ETS

If you own or have rights to forest land, you may be able to earn carbon credits through the ETS.

Two classes of forest

Forest land in the ETS is classified as either 'pre-1990 forest land' or 'post-1989 forest land', depending on when your forest was first established.

Download the fact sheet – Overview of forestry in the ETS [PDF, 480 KB]

Participating in the ETS

If you own forest land, you can become a participant in the ETS in 2 ways:

  • voluntarily – owners can apply to register their post-1989 forest land into the ETS to earn NZUs.
  • mandatorily – owners become participants when non-exempt pre-1990 forest land is deforested.

For details of what you must do to register and manage your forest land under the ETS, refer to:

Managing your ETS forest registration online

You can register and manage your ETS forest land obligations (such as forest mapping and emissions returns) using MPI's ETS online transaction system.

New registrations

If you're not registered to use MPI's ETS online system, you'll need to:

  • be registered with the government online identification service RealMe
  • set up a login and password.

What is RealMe? – NZ Government website

For more information about transactions in the ETS online system refer to:

Alternative to the ETS

The Permanent Forest Sink Initiative (PFSI) is an alternative programme to the ETS. It enables post-1989 forest owners to receive carbon units through the creation of new permanent forests.

Keep informed with our bulletin

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

Find out more

Who to contact

If you have questions about forestry in the ETS:

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