Commercial forestry regulations

National Environmental Standard – Commercial Forestry

The National Environmental Standards for Commercial Forestry (NES-CF), formerly the National Environmental Standard for Plantation Forestry (NES-PF), are for managing the environmental effects of plantation and exotic continuous-cover forestry (sometimes called carbon forestry). These came into effect on 3 November 2023.

The NES-CF 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-CF 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
  9. Ancillary activities (slash traps)

Before activities 1, 3, 4, 5, 6 or 8 detailed above can take place, regional council (and in some cases district council) must be given written notice. Activities 2, 7 and 9 do not require notice, but the criteria in the NES-CF must be complied with.

Some activities may require the submission of additional information such as earthworks management plans, harvest plans, quarry erosion and sediment plans and afforestation and replanting plan. The NES-CF details information that must be included in the management plans. Checklists for Schedule 3,4, 5 and 6 requirements can be accessed in the NES–CF step-by-step section below.

Forestry best practice guidelines

The Northland Forestry Guidelines and Forest Owners Association guidelines outline 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. There are two documents that may be used for forestry activities, both can be accessed in the NES–CF step-by-step section below.

Any comments to the Northland guidelines can be emailed to: [email protected]   

NES–CF step-by-step

Use the flow chart and associated links below to assist with the forestry notification process from start to finish.

To contact us about the NES-CF or any other commercial forestry please email: [email protected]

Tools and resources

Find out more about NESPF

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Submit a NES–PF notification

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Preparing a Management Plan

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Mapping tools

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Best practice guides