2018 Voluntary Emissions Returns Close This Month

You can choose to submit a voluntary emissions return for 2018 carbon stock change in registered post-1989 forests.  Returns for the 2018 year must be submitted before 30 June 2019.

Participants who have not submitted an emissions return will have the ability to account for carbon stock changes that occurred in the 2018 year in later emissions returns.

Te Uru Rākau wishes to emphasise that successful completion of emissions returns requires a good understanding of the Climate Change (Forestry Sector) Regulations and precise record keeping of forest-land attributes (down to 0.1 ha).

An increasing number of emissions returns have been submitted with issues. It takes considerable time to obtain the correct information from participants in order to amend incorrect emissions returns. This reduces their capacity to process the returns, and provide other services, in a timely manner.

Common issues

Note: references to ‘Regulations’ are to the Climate Change (Forestry Sector) Regulations 2008.

  1. Disregarding clearing

For example:

failure to report emissions from small areas (down to 0.1 ha) harvested in part of a carbon accounting area, while claiming NZUs for trees continuing to grow in other parts of the carbon accounting area;

neglecting to account for decay of above-ground residual wood and below-ground roots in areas harvested;

failure to remove land from the registration that no longer meets the definition of forest-land, prior to submitting the return.

  1. Use of the wrong carbon stock tables

For example:

use of default tables in the Regulations for the wrong region when completing carbon stock calculations for pine (see Schedule 6, Tables 1 and 3);

use of the “total” carbon stock tables (Tables 1 & 2 in Schedule 6, or the equivalent FMA tables) when calculating emissions from decay of above-ground residual wood and below-ground roots – should be using Tables 3 & 4 in Schedule 6, or the equivalent FMA tables;

use of invalid carbon tables after adding a carbon accounting area for which participant-specific carbon tables have yet to be generated (see regulation 22J(8)).

  1. Miscalculating period and size

incorrect calculation of tree age – the “+1” rule that adds an extra year to age when an emissions return ends on 31 December is often overlooked (see regulation 22(a)(iii))

incorrectly determining the time since harvesting when calculating emissions from decay of above-ground residual wood and below-ground roots – the “+1” rule again often applies (see regulation 21(3));

improper rounding of area – rounding to 0.1 hectare only occurs for the total area in a sub-area, but there is no rounding for any discrete part that makes up a sub-area (see regulation 5).

Note that, if carbon stock change is incorrectly reported, this can lead to substantial penalties under the Climate Change Response Act.

You may wish to consider having your return peer reviewed prior to submission, or having your return prepared by an accomplished ETS consultant.

If you have any questions about emissions returns, call 0800 CLIMATE (#3) or email