National environmental standards for plantation forestry

The standards provide nationally consistent regulations to manage the environmental effects of forestry.

Official title

Resource Management (National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry) Regulations 2017

Lead agency

Ministry for Primary Industries with support from MfE

Full text

National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry 2017 [New Zealand Legislation website]

In force from

1 May 2018

Proposed changes

Proposals include:

  • giving local councils more control over where forests are planted  
  • managing the effects of exotic carbon forestry on nature
  • improving wildfire management in all forests
  • addressing the key findings of the Year One Review of the NES-PF.

Further information on the proposals [MPI website]

Consultation on the proposals closed on 18 November 2022.

About the standards

The objectives of the National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry (NES-PF) are to:

  • maintain or improve the environmental outcomes associated with plantation forestry activities nationally
  • increase certainty and efficiency in the management of plantation forestry activities.

The Government first proposed a National Environmental Standard for Plantation Forestry in 2010 as regulations under the RMA. We consulted on a proposal in 2010 and a revised proposal in 2011. Feedback from submissions indicated that further development of the proposal was needed.

The Ministry for Primary Industries has led this work since 2013 and sought views on the proposed NES-PF between June and August 2015. The Government decided to proceed with the NES-PF with a number of changes. An exposure draft of the regulations was reviewed in February 2017 by a small group of technical experts from councils, industry and environmental non-government organisations. They provided feedback on the clarity and workability of the regulations.

Further public consultation was carried out in May-June 2017. This was on a new RMA provision that would allow councils to charge for monitoring permitted activities under the proposed NES-PF. The Government agreed to use this provision in the NES-PF to enable recovery of the monitoring costs of specific activities (harvesting, earthworks, forestry, quarrying and river crossings).

Minor and technical amendments were made to the NES-PF in April 2018 to bring additional clarity and consistency to the NES-PF in line with the original policy intent.

Amendments include clarification or correction on:

  • wilding conifer control
  • existing river crossings
  • indigenous vegetation clearance
  • the ability of councils to be more stringent when giving effect to the National Policy Statement for Freshwater Management.

Find out more

Read the Forestry Minister Shane Jones'media release: National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry commence (1 May 2018) [Beehive website]