National Environmental Standard – Plantation Forestry

The National Environmental Standard for plantation forestry (NES-PF) commences on 1 May 2018. The NES-PF are regulations under the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) and applies to any forest of at least 1 hectare that has been planted specifically for commercial purposes and will be harvested.

The NES-PF regulations aims to:

  • set out technical standards, methods or requirements relating to matters under the RMA; and
  • provide consistent rules across the country by setting planning requirements for certain specified activities.

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

  1. Afforestation (planting new forest)
  2. Pruning and thinning-to-waste (selective felling of trees where the felled trees remain on site)
  3. Earthworks
  4. River crossings
  5. Forestry quarrying (extraction of rock, sand, or gravel within a plantation forest or for operation of a forest on adjacent land)
  6. Harvesting
  7. Mechanical land preparation
  8. Replanting

Before activities 1, 3, 4, 5 or 6 detailed above can take place, regional council (and in some cases district council) must be given written notice. Activities 2, 7 and 8 do not require notice, but the criteria in the NES must be complied with.

Some activities may require the submission of additional information such as Earthworks Management Plans, Harvest Plans and Quarry Erosion and Sediment Plans. The NES-PF includes two schedules (Schedule 3 and Schedule 4) that lists information that must be included in the management plans. Checklists for Schedule 3 and Schedule 4 requirements can be accessed below:

Notice of forestry activities - online form

You can give notice of your forestry activities to both Northland Regional Council and your relevant district council online:

Need help?

To contact us about the NES-PF or any other commercial forestry please email:

More information about the NES-PF

Find more information about National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry on the Ministry for Primary Industries website:

Northland Forestry Guidelines

The Northland Forestry Guidelines are a set of guidelines developed between industry leaders and the Northland Regional Council.  They are a guide to good practice when undertaking a variety of activities associated with the harvest of plantation forestry and aim to minimise the environmental effects of forestry operations. 

The guidelines are a living document which will improve over time taking into account the needs of industry and environmental protection and are currently open for comment from the industry.  

Any comments to the guidelines can be emailed to:   

Download the guidelines

Due to the size of the document the Northland Forestry Guidelines has been split into separate files.

Afforestation Grant Scheme

This government scheme aims to encourage and support the planting of small to medium-sized (for example, 5-300ha) forests with indigenous or exotic species. Priority for funding through the scheme is for planting trees on erosion-prone pastoral land.

Applicants to the scheme require a farm plan, which the council can provide free of charge.  Find more information on Farm Environment Plans

More information about the Afforestation Grant Scheme can be found on the Ministry for Primary Industries website.