Te mahi ngahere Māori me Te Pūnaha Tauhokohoko Whiwhinga Waro Māori forestry and the Emissions Trading Scheme

Learn about the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and see if it’s right for your existing or planned ngahere.

About the ETS

You may have heard that some types of ngahere can be registered into the Emissions Trading Scheme. You may also be wondering if registering is the right thing for your whenua and ngahere.

The ETS was set up to help Aotearoa reduce the damage caused by climate change. Climate change is caused by human activities that release warming gases like carbon dioxide (greenhouse gases) into the atmosphere.

One way to repair this damage is to reduce the greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere. The ETS was set up so organisations that produce greenhouse gases would need to pay for their emissions. Over time, this cost will encourage organisations to lower their emissions.

Ngahere in the ETS

Ngahere help to remove carbon dioxide out of the air while they grow. The Emissions Trading Scheme provides incentives for ngahere owners and for people to establish ngahere. If your ngahere is eligible and registered in the ETS, it could earn carbon credits.

You may have to return some carbon credits if you harvest your ngahere, or if you decide to remove the ngahere completely to use the whenua for something else.

Whenua Oho have a video explaining the ETS on their media page.

Carbon credits

To make businesses and organisations pay for their carbon emissions, some must buy carbon credits (called New Zealand Units, or NZUs) if they produce greenhouse gases. Generally, one carbon credit must be bought for one tonne of carbon dioxide emitted.

Because ngahere absorb carbon dioxide, they can earn a carbon credit for each tonne of carbon dioxide they absorb.

Organisations that must buy carbon credits can buy them from the Government, or from foresters in the ETS.

The value of carbon credits changes over time. This affects how much money you can make from them. The Government releases NZUs every 3 months. When the supply credits run low, their price can go up.

ETS opportunities

If you’re planting trees, the ETS can be a way to make money because it can add value, known as carbon value, to your trees.

Newly planted ngahere often have the highest potential carbon value, as they have more carbon to absorb as they grow.

In the long-term, ngahere full of native trees are a great way to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Permanent trees also help to return the whenua to its original state. They help to protect the land, prevent soil erosion, and improve water quality.

But native trees are expensive to plant and take a long time to grow. So, these forests earn carbon credits more slowly over a long time. This means it can be hard to cover the costs of establishing and maintaining a native ngahere through carbon value alone.

Quick-growing exotic trees like pine, redwoods or eucalyptus absorb lots of carbon dioxide in a shorter time.

Exotic trees could help you earn money through the ETS to fund a long term native ngahere that benefits the whenua in the longer term.

Funding

Getting funding could help to pay for the initial costs of planting trees, before you join the ETS.

Our funding page has a list of grants you may be eligible to apply for.

Is your land eligible?

Only certain types of existing forests are eligible to join the ETS. When your ngahere was planted or established, and what was on the land before, affects whether you can join.

If you have ngahere planted before 1990, you cannot register this in the ETS to earn carbon credits.

Read about forest land and eligibility on our Is the Emissions Trading Scheme right for you? page.

See explanations of the different types of forest land eligible to join the ETS on the Ministry for Primary Industries’ website.

If your whenua is eligible to join the ETS you’ll still need to check if your whenua is suitable to be in the scheme. You may find that parts are not.

The ETS is complex so it’s best to get advice to see if it’s right for your whenua.

Find out if your forest land is covered by the ETS, whether you can join the ETS, and if you can earn carbon credits on the Ministry for Primary Industries’ website.

Getting ETS advice

If the ETS is right for your whenua, there are different steps involved to join. When you join, there are obligations you must meet.

It’s best to talk to a forestry or ETS consultant before you join the ETS.

You can also appoint a representative to help you join the ETS (this person is sometimes called an ‘authorised representative’). Your representative can help you:

  • register your land in the ETS
  • map your land
  • complete and submit emissions returns (reporting on your forest growth and any harvesting)
  • respond to queries from MPI about your ETS forest land.

Land already in the ETS

Your ngahere may already be in the ETS or have ETS obligations.

If your ngahere is already in the ETS, it must be recorded in notices registered on the land title. And anyone buying forest land should check the title for these notices.

If your ngahere has ETS obligations, there are also other ways you can use this whenua. Growing secondary crops and planting for rongoā are some of the things you could do.

ETS obligations

If you have forest land in the ETS, there are obligations.

You must file an emissions return every 5 years. This is a report that shows how your forest has grown, and any changes and harvesting activities. You might need to hire specialists to draw maps of your land or measure the growth of your trees.

If you harvest your forest, you may need to pay back carbon credits. If you deforest or unregister from the ETS, you must pay back carbon credits.

When you join the ETS, there may be fees and charges to pay.

ETS experiences

See how Nikki Serancke, Chairperson, Nuhiti Q tested the ETS to facilitate native forest regeneration on Māori land.