Resource consents

Some forest activities require resource consent. Some activities are regulated under the National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry and some councils also require resource consent for certain activities like vegetation clearance.

Check if you need resource consent

If you’re going to plant more than 1 hectare of trees for harvest, you need to check if you need resource consent.

Check your council rules

Check with your local city or district council if there are any vegetation clearance or planting rules, or local body regulations. These could limit your ability to plant.

Council maps and websites – Local Government New Zealand

Check the National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry (NES-PF) activity conditions

Many forestry activities under the NES-PF are permitted if conditions set out in the regulations are met. If you cannot meet the conditions, then you require resource consent.

Erosion risk
You need to understand the erosion risk on your land to determine how you manage forestry activities. If it is a high risk, then you will need a resource consent for certain activities. The Ministry for Primary Industries has information and an online tool to help with this.

Erosion Susceptibility Classification – Ministry for Primary Industries

Wilding tree risk
If you’re planting a conifer species, you will need to do a wilding tree risk spread assessment. The Ministry for Primary Industries has information and a tool for assessing risk.

Wilding Tree Risk calculator – Ministry for Primary Industries

Significant natural areas or areas of outstanding natural landscape
You cannot plant in a significant natural area or an outstanding natural feature or landscape without resource consent. Check council maps to see if you have any of these areas on your land.

Council maps and websites – Local Government New Zealand

Plant within specified setbacks
The NES-PF specifies setbacks from certain areas, and you will not be able to plant in these. For example, if you are planting next to:

  • roads
  • neighbouring properties
  • significant natural areas
  • water bodies and wetlands.

The NES-PF regulations provide more details on these requirements.

Reg 14 Permitted activity condition: setbacks – NZ Legislation

Notify your council before planting
Provide written notice to your council of the location, proposed setbacks and dates your planting will start and end.

The NES-PF regulations provide more detail on what councils need to know.

Reg 10 Permitted activity condition: notice – NZ Legislation

Regulations under the Resource Management Act

The NES-PF sets out national regulations to manage the environmental effects of forestry.

The NES-PF applies to any forest of at least 1 hectare that has been planted specifically for commercial purposes and will be harvested. It does not include:

  • shelter belts
  • forest species in urban areas
  • nurseries and seed orchards
  • trees grown for fruit or nuts
  • long term ecological planting of forest species
  • willows and poplars planted for soil conservation purposes.

The NES-PF regulations cover 8 core plantation forestry activities that have potential environmental effects:

  • planting new forest (afforestation)
  • pruning and thinning to waste (selective felling of trees where the felled trees remain on site)
  • earthworks
  • river crossings
  • extraction of rock, sand, or gravel within a plantation forest or for operation of a forest on adjacent land (forestry quarrying)
  • harvesting
  • mechanical land preparation
  • replanting.
Resource Management (National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry) Regulations 2017 – NZ Legislation