Post-1989 forest land is land that was established in forest after 31 December 1989, i.e. has had a conscious land use change from ‘non forest’ to ‘forest land’ on or since 1st January 1990. Land that was in forest before this date, but was deforested between 1 January 1990 and 31 December 2007 is also eligible.

Post-1989 land can be exotic or indigenous species, providing it meets the forest land requirements. Owners of post-1989 forest land, and those with rights to post-1989 forests can voluntarily enter the ETS and earn New Zealand Units (NZUs) as their forests grow.

Participants with post-1989 forest land in the ETS receive NZUs for increases in the carbon stock of their forest as a result of growth, but they are also required to surrender NZUs to the Government if carbon stocks fall, as may occur when a forest is harvested or burns down.

The amount of carbon stored in a forest varies depending on the age, species and location. Provided the forest land is registered by 31 December 2012, NZUs can be claimed for the whole of the first commitment period – 5 years – from 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2012.

For the first ten years (if planted after 2008) the credits produced do not need to be surrendered when the block is logged, if the forest is replanted. This is known as “enduring” or “safe” carbon credits.