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New nationwide rules to manage the environmental effects of forestry came into effect on 1 May 2018. The new regulations aim to streamline planning rules across the country. 

Called the National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry (NES-PF), these regulations cover eight core plantation forestry activities. These include:

  • Afforestation
  • Pruning and thinning to waste
  • Earthworks
  • River crossings
  • Forestry quarrying
  • Harvesting
  • Mechanical land preparation 
  • Replanting

The NES-PF applies to any forest of at least one hectare that has been planted specifically for commercial purposes and will be harvested.

There are also certain activities and effects that are not in the scope of the regulations. In most cases, the regulations do not cover plantation forestry activities that occur outside the boundaries of the forest land, such as the effects of logging trucks using public roads. Existing regional and district plan rules will continue to apply to the activities and effects that are outside the scope of the regulations; examples include but are not limited to, cultural and historic heritage, agrichemical use, burning, water yield and milling and processing activities.

How do the new rules affect me?

If you own forestry, or are employed in the industry, it’s important you are aware of the new rules and what they mean. A summary of the changes is available here.  

Some examples of the conditions under the NES-PF regulations are:

  • setbacks when planting next to rivers, lakes, wetlands, and coastal areas. These unplanted strips protect against erosion and sedimentation from afforestation
  • management plans for earthworks, forest quarrying, and harvesting activities to identify environmental risks and how they'll be managed
  • identification and maintenance of storm water and sediment control measures for forestry activities.

I need to give Regional Council notice about my forestry activity 

The NES-PF regulations require those undertaking an activity in a forestry block greater than one hectare to give notice to Council. These activities include afforestation, forestry quarrying, river crossings, earthworks and harvesting. This is a free and easy to complete process that allows us to monitor the combined effects of activities in an area. You can give notice to council by completing the form below and emailing it to . 

You may still need a resource consent

If forest operators can meet the permitted conditions, they will not require consent. If not, they must seek a resource consent. A link to the application forms can be found here.  

If you have any additional queries about whether or not you may require consent please contact the Duty Consents Officer, on 0800-884-880.

Forestry in the Bay of Plenty

Exotic forestry makes up about 16 percent of the land in our region. Most of this forestry is in large tracts like the Kāingaroa Plateau, but there are also many smaller woodlots and farm forestry blocks around the region.

Forestry can be an appropriate and profitable land use on many land use capability classes, particularly for steep and erosion-prone land. Landowners often find that converting difficult parts of their property, such as steep sidlings from pasture to trees, improves their overall productivity by allowing them to concentrate inputs on their better land.

While the main source of income from forestry is generally from harvesting logs, there are many other benefits from planting trees, including:

  • Carbon sequestration (removing carbon from the atmosphere)
  • Providing shelter
  • Stabilising slopes
  • Reducing nutrient losses
  • Suppressing weeds
  • Contributing to biodiversity

Some important factors to consider prior to planting include:

  • Overall reasons for afforestation (log harvest, shelter, carbon sequestration, amenity, biodiversity, erosion control)
  • Aspect, slope, soil type, elevation, size of block
  • Fencing or stock exclusion
  • Pest animal and pest plant control
  • Access for harvesting machinery if required

These will dictate species selection, establishment costs, the silvicultural regime and overall viability of the project. 

Our Land Management Officers are available to provide advice on planting forestry blocks, and grants may be available to assist with forestry establishment under a Riparian Management Plan.

For more information Land Management Factsheets are available on a range of forestry topics including some of the more commonly planted tree species.

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

Tane's Tree Trust is an organisation promoting the successful planting and sustainable management of indigenous trees by landowners for multiple uses.

The Manuka and Kānuka Plantation Guide

There is a strong interest across New Zealand in growing Mānuka and Kānuka, and for the Rotorua catchment, it’s an appealing low nitrogen loss land use solution.

The Mānuka & Kānuka Plantation Guide is a tool that has been released through combined funding from several Regional Councils. It provides information on the plants themselves, honey production, oil production, environmental and agricultural benefits, establishing plantations and long term management.

Forest Harvesting

It is important that harvesting is well-planned and carried out to minimise erosion and downstream effects.

The following guidelines may assist when planning forestry harvesting operations: