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Plantation Forestry National Regulations (NES-PF)

The National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry (NES-PF) came into force on 1 May 2018, providing nationally consistent regulations to manage the environmental effects of forestry.

What are the regulations?

The NES-PF aims to maintain or improve the environmental outcomes related to managing plantation forestry activities under the Resource Management Act (RMA).

The regulations apply to any forest of at least one hectare that has been planted specifically for commercial purposes and will be harvested.

The regulations cover:

  • afforestation (planting new forest)
  • pruning and thinning to waste (selective felling of trees where the felled trees remain on site)
  • earthworks
  • river crossings
  • forestry quarrying (extraction of rock, sand, or gravel within a plantation forest or for operation of a forest on adjacent land)
  • harvesting
  • mechanical land preparation
  • replanting
  • Ancillary activities (slash traps)

Foresters who undertake any of these plantation forestry activities will need to comply with the requirements of the NES-PF.

View the full NES-PF or check out our quick guide.

Permitted activities vs resource consent

Forestry activities can be permitted by the NES-PF so long as specific conditions to prevent significant adverse environmental effects are met. If these conditions can’t be met, then you’ll need to apply for a resource consent. Te Uru Rakau has guidance on permitted activities and what activities require resource consent.

An example of a permitted activity is harvesting on flat land. An example of an activity requiring consent is harvesting on steep, erosion-prone land.

If consent is required, you will need to submit two completed resource consents, administrative and technical, and provide all the necessary information with the relevant management plans. Find out more about the consent process and costs.

Notices and Monitoring

The NES-PF regulations require some forestry activities to be notified to Council 20 to 60 days before work begins. The activities are:

  • afforestation
  • forestry quarrying*
  • river crossings
  • earthworks*
  • harvesting*

Please submit your notice via the NES-PF Permitted Activity On-line Form, or via email; NESPFnotice@hbrc.govt.nz.  You may be asked to provide a copy of the relevant earthworks or harvest management plan, or stream flow calculations. You may also be required to give notice to the relevant territorial local authority.

The NES-PF provides us with the ability to monitor permitted activities This means that after you submit your notice and your management plans, we may be in touch to arrange to visit the site to ensure that the activity is being undertaken in a way that complies with the NES-PF Regulations. The cost of monitoring inspections will be charged to the forest company or contractor undertaking the works, or the consent holder.

If the forest company will not be responsible for monitoring costs, it is up to you to have your own agreement in place between the parties involved (e.g. landowner, contractor, forester, etc.) to pass on the monitoring costs and ensure that they are paid. It is expected that a minimum of one compliance site visit and associated reporting be allowed for when budgeting. Consented activities are also monitored, and the costs of this monitoring is charged to the consent holder.   

*For forestry quarrying, earthworks, or harvesting you are also required to prepare and submit management plans for each activity. The information that must be included in management plans is set out in Schedule 3 of the NES-PF. Management plans are required for both permitted activities and consent applications.

Liability

If you’re entering into an agreement for another person or company to harvest the trees on your land, you will need to consider the environmental outcomes and potential liabilities that you will inherit during the works and once harvesting has finished. As the landowner you may be held liable for works undertaken by those who you have employed or contracted.

Under the Resource Management Act you could be prosecuted for “permitting” the offence to occur, or by being vicariously liable for the actions of your employees or contractors. You can read our full liability document to find out more.

Tools

The Erosion Susceptibility Classification (ESC) is used to identify the erosion risk of land as a basis for determining where a plantation forestry activity:

  • is permitted, subject to certain conditions being met, or
  • requires resource consent because it's on higher-risk land.

The Erosion Susceptibility Classification tool is available on the MPI website.

Other tools used by the NES-PF are the Fish Spawning Indicator and Wilding Pine Risk Indicator. These tools should also be used at the planning stage for a forestry activity to help determine your requirements under the NES-PF.

Biosecurity and possum control

Production forestry within or adjacent to a Possum Control Area is required to maintain possum densities at or below 5% residual trap catch within 500m of an adjoining property to meet Plan Rule 15 in the Regional Pest Management Plan. Forests may be monitored at any time, including just prior to harvest. For further information please contact the Regional Council or look at our Regional Pest Management Plan.

Best practice and useful information

MPI and New Zealand Forest Owners Association have developed best practice guides for designing and undertaking methods forestry activities, and a guide on the planning, design and construction of forestry roads.

The New Zealand Farm Forestry Association website has useful information and case studies of establishing trees on farms.

Hawke’s Bay Forestry Group Provides a forum for Hawke’s Bay forest managers to meet and discuss issues of common interest and establish a collective response to manage concerns within and outside the forestry sector.

There may have other obligations under different legislation, including to notify Work Safe of intended harvesting operations. Check their forestry and harvesting requirements.

Contact

Please note that you also need to check with any relevant territorial authority for their NES-PF requirements.

For Permitted Activity notices or Compliance issues:

Stephen Sykes (Environmental Officer) 027 2261793 Stephen.sykes@hbrc.govt.nz

For Resource Consents;

Paul Barrett (Team Leader Consents) 06 833 8014 barrett@hbrc.govt.nz or consentadvisor@hbrc.govt.nz

Other Relevant Pages

 

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