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Plantation Forestry National Regulations (NES-CF)

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.

What are the regulations?

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

The regulations apply to any commercial exotic forest of at least one hectare that has been planted specifically for commercial purposes and will be harvested. This ensures the long-term sustainability of new and existing exotic forests.

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 commercial 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 commercial forestry activities will need to comply with the requirements of the NES-CF.

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

Permitted activities vs resource consent

Forestry activities can be permitted by the NES-CF 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-CF regulations require some forestry activities to be notified to Council 10 to 60 days before work begins. The activities are:

Activity Council notification required (days before work begins):
Afforestation* 20 days, and no more than eight months prior
Forestry quarrying* Green/yellow ESC zone: 10-60 daysOther: 20-60 days
River crossings Between 20 and 60 days
Earthworks* Between 20 and 60 days
Harvesting* Between 20 and 60 days
Replanting* 20 days, and no more than eight months prior

Please submit your notice via the NES-CF Permitted Activity Form, or via email to Joint notices for multiple activities can be submitted.

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-CF provides councils 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-CF 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 afforestation, quarrying, earthworks, harvesting, or replanting 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 Schedules 3, 4, 5, and 6 of the NES-CF. Management plans are required for both permitted activities and consent applications.

How to apply

Please complete both of the following forms:

Application Form 'A'

Application Form 'B' - Application for Forestry or Woodlot


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.


The Erosion Susceptibility Classification (ESC) is used to identify the erosion risk of land as a basis for determining where a commercial 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 Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) website.

Other tools used by the NES-CF 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-CF.

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


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

For Permitted Activity notices or Compliance issues:


06 835 9200 or freephone 0800 108 838.


For Resource Consents:

Paul Barrett (Team Leader Consents)

06 833 8014

Email: or

Other Relevant Pages



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