Guide to Erosion Control/spaced Plantings Being Eligible to Enter the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS)  

Posted on July 27, 2019


For erosion control/spaced plantings to be eligible to enter the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), they must meet the ‘forest land’ definition’ as well as be ‘Post 1989’ land.

Forest land must be at least a hectare in size and have (or will have) tree crown cover:

  • from forest species of more than 30% in each hectare
  • with an average width of at least 30 metres.

Forest species in the ETS are trees that can reach at least 5 metres in height in the place they are growing. They do not include trees grown primarily for fruit or nuts.

Post-1989 forest land is land that is currently forest land and either:

  • wasn't forest land on 31 December 1989
  • was forest land on 31 December 1989, but was deforested between 1 January 1990 and 31 December 2007, or
  • was pre-1990 forest land that was deforested on or after 1 January 2008, and any ETS liability has been paid.

MPI website link:

Carbon Growth

If a total registration is under 100 hectares the carbon tables used for poplar and willow plantings are based on the MPI Standard look-up tables under ‘Other Exotic Hardwood’.

These tables were produced by MPI to represent an average stand of hardwoods across New Zealand.

If the total registration is over 100 hectares the participant is required to measure the carbon growth of the forest areas under the Field Measurement Approach (FMA). By measuring the carbon at specific plot locations provided, MPI create ‘Participant specific tables’ which represent the carbon sequestered over the lifetime of a species.

MPI website link

If a registration is over 100 hectares and measured under the FMA, the carbon tables produced will represent the actual carbon per hectare which will differ from the MPI Standard look-up tables if it has a low number of stems per hectare.

The pruning or pollarding of trees is categorized as silviculture and could impact on carbon tables if the trees are measured under the FMA, i.e if the registration is over 100 ha.


In the case of spaced erosion control plantings, the following tips may be helpful.

The crown cover/canopy size of cultivars differ, therefore when working with narrower varieties, tighter spacing is required to meet the forest land criteria.

  • MPI Mapping guidelines allows 15 metres maximum between canopy edges, however a maximum buffer of 4 metres can be applied to a pole under five years of age.
  • Therefore, a 20 metre spacing maximum on perimeter trees will aid eligibility.

The shape of erosion control plantings may be linear or in isolated pockets, therefore can be ineligible as not capable of average width of 30 metres, 1 hectare in size, or potential of 30% canopy cover.

  • Additional poles can be added to increase size and link existing stands. By using several rows rather than a single tree/line linking, the link is less likely to be affected by poor survival.
  • Monitor registered stands and replant to make sure eligibility criteria is always met. Units must be repaid if the carbon stock declines.
  • The stands can be considered permanent as long as tree crown cover is maintained.

The location and spacing of plantings means that their stand shape can be significantly affected by survival/attrition.

  • By ensuring a stand is well established before entering into the ETS, poles will be past initial establishment phase, as well as being able to locate and map on aerial imagery.
  • GPS marking the base of poles can also aid in mapping in their earlier years, especially in areas where aerial imagery is flown less often or imagery is in deciduous months.

Stands can contain areas of different establishment years, however, planting years and locations are crucial to determining age.

  • Keep good records of how many poles planted in specific paddocks, and access council records where appropriate.
  • Check aerial imagery from around 1990 for land use cover in January 1990. Darker areas will be a red flag that vegetation could have already been established.

If land is in doubt you will need to provide supporting evidence (receipts, photos etc.)

More Information

Refer to the MPI website for information relating to Forestry in the ETS. 0800 CLIMATE #3

Or contact FOREST360 (previously Woodnet) – or 06 370 2068.

This information has been made available by Woodnet Forestry, Marginal Land & Carbon Consultancy Services based in Masterton.