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Deforestation Exemptions

The following are some important points regarding pre-1990 deforestation exemptions.

  • The opportunity to apply for a pre-1990 deforestation exemption is a one off.
  • The prior deadline (1 July 2010) for applying for exemption has been removed. A new date has yet to be set.
  • Applications for an exemption cannot commence until the final forestry Allocation Plan is issued (unlikely to be issued before the second quarter of 2010).
  • If the deforestation has already taken place and land is eligible for an exemption, applications can now be received.
  • Deforestation of 2 hectares or less of a person's total pre-1990 landholding(s) in the five year period from 2008-2012, or in each subsequent five year period, is automatically excluded from the ETS.
  • It is not the Government's intention to restrict the removal of tree weeds (self-sown exotic forest species that can overtake the land). Definitions of what constitutes a tree weed and how the exemptions are to be applied have not yet been finalised.

When applying for less than 50 hectare exemption, the applicant will need to provide a statutory declaration from each person who owned the land on 1 September 2007 that they owned in total, on that date, less than 50 hectares of pre-1990 forest land.

Where pre-1990 forest land was jointly owned as at 1 September 2007, none of the joint owners (except for a professional trustee) at that time is permitted to own more than 50 hectares of pre-1990 forest land in association with any other person if the exemption is to apply. Similarly, if the land was owned by tenants in common, none of the tenants at that time is permitted to own more than 50 hectares of pre-1990 forest land in association with any other person if the exemption is to apply. Each tenant in common's interest in the land at that time is to be treated as a divided interest for the purpose of determining their total pre-1990 forest land ownership. These criteria are restricted to legal ownership and not beneficial interests.

Owners of exempt pre-1990 forest land are not eligible for the free allocation of New Zealand Units (NZUs) in respect of the exempt land through a Forestry Allocation Plan. Before applying for an exemption, landowners should therefore carefully consider whether or not they wish to forgo any entitlement they may have to an allocation of NZUs.