Native Trees That Qualify for Carbon Credits in the New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme (2022)

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All New Zealand native species of plant and tree can make up an eligible indigenous forest under the rules of the NZ ETS. All of the Land Requirements for Carbon Credits in the ETS  must still be met for ETS eligibility to be confirmed.  

The most important requirement of native forests in the ETS is that 30% of the forest's canopy cover must be made up of tree species that have the potential to reach at least 5 metres tall at maturity. A list of some of New Zealand native tree species that reach at least 5 metres tall is provided at the bottom of this blog. The rest of the forest can be made up of plants, shrubs and smaller trees that create structure across all levels of the forest canopy.

Both naturally regenerating native areas and planted native forests are eligible for the NZ ETS. For regenerating areas of native forest, it can be challenging to accurately date the initial emergence but is possible to date establishment by using historic aerial photos and satellite imagery. 

When planting a native forest try to include a mix of species relevant to the location, topography and soil conditions for the site. Look at what was present in the area historically and try to mirror nature at establishment time.  Having existing native forest nearby will provide an added seed source for the newly established native forest, adding species diversity and aiding in the successional development over the lifetime of the forest. Do not rely on a natural seed source to ensure the density of tall trees meets the 30% canopy cover threshold.

The presence of weed species such as broom and gorse is acceptable in ETS registered native forests. Weed species can provide great benefit to the formative structure of the forest. Gorse and broom act as a nurse crop providing cover to the shade-tolerant species that will grow up through the weeds, eventually shading them out to form the larger canopy of the forest.

A successful native forest establishment project takes research, planning and considerable ongoing management. Landowners should do plenty of research, consider getting professional advice, and employ competent contractors to carry out the work. Failure to do this can be an expensive mistake in the long term.

Common Native Trees that grow to 5 metres +

Kauri Agathis australis

Kahikatea Dacrycarpus dacrydioides

Mataī Prumnopitys taxifolia

Miro Prumnopitys ferruginea

Mountain toatoa Phyllocladus alpinus

Rimu Dacrydium cupressinum

Tanekaha Phyllocladus trichomanoides

Tōtara Podocarpus totara

Kawaka Libocedrus plumosa

Pahautea Libocedrus bidwillii

Ponga or silver fern, Cyathea dealbata

Mamaku Cyathea medullaris

Taraire Beilschmiedia tarairi

Tawa Beilschmiedia tawa

Cabbage trees Cordyline

Hīnau Elaeocarpus dentatus

Kanuka Kunzea

Kohekohe Dysoxylum spectabile

Kōtukutuku Fuchsia excorticata

Kōwhai Sophora

Five finger Pseudopanax arboreus

Lancewood Pseudopanax crassifolius

Toothed lancewood Pseudopanax ferox

Maire Nestegis

Manuka Leptospermum scoparium

Bartlett's rātā Metrosideros bartlettii

Kermadec pōhutukawa Metrosideros kermadecensis

Northern rātā Metrosideros robusta

Parkinson's rātā Metrosideros parkinsonii

Pōhutukawa Metrosideros excelsa

Southern rātā Metrosideros umbellata

Large-leaved milk tree Streblus banksii

Small-leaved milk tree Streblus heterophyllus

Nikau Rhopalostylis sapida

Pigeonwood Hedycarya arborea

Pukatea Laurelia novae-zelandiae

Black beech Nothofagus solandri var. solandri

Hard beech Nothofagus truncata

Mountain beech Nothofagus solandri var. cliffortioides

Red beech Nothofagus fusca

Silver beech Nothofagus menziesii

Kāmahi Weinmannia racemosa

Tōwai Weinmannia silvicola