Consultation on changes to the NES-Plantation Forestry

Topics covered in this article: RMA & Local Government, Sustainability & Climate Change

Rachael Zame

Special Counsel

Special Counsel

Phone: +64 7 927 0522


Bachelor of Laws, Bachelor of Science, University of Otago 

Kate Stubbing

Senior Associate

Senior Associate

Phone: +64 7 927 0595

LLB / BCom, University of Otago


Public consultation has commenced yesterday (6 October 2022) on proposed changes to the National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry (NES-PF). 

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) is inviting feedback “on Government plans to improve the way New Zealand manages forestry to ensure it works for nature, local communities, and our economy”.

The proposed changes are a response to the greater investment in forestry around the country, increasing carbon prices in the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), the impacts of large-scale changes in land use to the environment, rural communities and regional economies, and to achieve the government’s goals set out in the Emissions Reduction Plan.

The Ministers (David Parker, Damien O’Connor, Stuart Nash, Kieran McAnulty and James Shaw) describe the proposed changes as seeking “to ensure the right forest is planted in the right place, and managed in the right way”.

The Discussion Document released sets out the four topics relating to afforestation and management of plantation and exotic carbon forests that feedback is sought on:

Proposals to extend the scope of regulatory controls over afforestation and forestry management:

1. Managing the environmental effects of exotic carbon forests, including those with some level of harvest and/or those transitioning to indigenous forest.

2. Controlling the location of afforestation (plantation and exotic carbon) to manage social, cultural, and economic effects.

3. Improving wildfire risk management in all plantation and exotic carbon forests.

Proposals to update the NES-PF tools and regulatory controls over forest management:

  4.  Addressing matters identified through the Year One Review of the NES-PF – to better enable foresters and councils to manage the environmental effects of forestry.

The proposals include a series of preferred options relating to each of the four topics above.  The proposed changes include the extension of the scope of the NES-PF to include exotic carbon forests, or to amend the NES-PF to require Forest Management Plans for exotic carbon forests.

Feedback is sought on options to extend the scope of councils’ ability to control the location of afforestation to manage social, cultural, and economic effects.

The proposals to address matters identified in the Year One Review include in relation to wilding risk management, slash management, initial alignment with NES-Freshwater, and a number of operational and technical issues including proposed changes to definitions and terms to better reflect the intent of the regulations.

Reference is made in the Discussion Document to the upcoming resource management reform and the role of the proposed National Planning Framework (NPF) in the new system to be a single, comprehensive framework that consolidates national direction.  It is clear that there is intended to be better alignment between other national direction where there is some overlap with the NES-PF.

Full details of the consultation and proposed changes can be found here:

Submissions on the proposed changes close on Friday 18 November 2022.  If you would like further information or have any questions, please contact a member of our team.

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