A Crown Conservation Contract is a mechanism in the Climate Change Response Act 2002 that enables public conservation land to be entered into the Emissions Trading Scheme.

If you are considering applying for a Crown Conservation Contract, contact the nearest of these DOC offices.

Guidance on Crown Conservation Contracts

Section 4 of the Climate Change Response Act 2002 (CCRA) defines a Crown Conservation Contract as:

  • a written agreement with the Crown (including a concession granted in accordance with Part 3B of the Conservation Act 1987)

  • for the removal and storage of greenhouse gases on post-1989 forest land that is Crown land, managed or administered under the Conservation Act 1987 or any of the Acts listed in Schedule 11 of that Act (i.e. referred to here as ‘Public Conservation Land’).

Crown Conservation Contracts must meet the statutory definition in section 4 and contribute to the overarching principles of the CCRA given effect to in section 3 of the Act. This includes providing for the implementation, operation, and administration of a greenhouse gas Emissions Trading Scheme in New Zealand (NZ ETS) that supports and encourages global efforts to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases by:

  • assisting New Zealand to meet its international obligations

  • reducing New Zealand’s net emissions of those gases to below business-as-usual levels.

In order to align with sections 3 and 4 of the CCRA, all individual activities agreed through projects delivered through Crown Conservation Contracts should:

  • be for the removal and storage of greenhouse gases on post-1989 forest land that is Public Conservation Land

  • cause a reduction in New Zealand’s net emissions of greenhouse gases below business-as-usual levels.

When considering what activities can be undertaken through a Crown Conservation Contract, the person entering into the Contract on behalf of the Crown should consider the following Government policy:

  • As a quantity measure, the total removal and storage of greenhouse gases caused by each individual activity authorised through a Crown Conservation Contract should be additional, and should therefore be able to show that New Zealand’s net emissions are lower than they would have been had the activity not been undertaken.

  • As a quality measure, each individual activity authorised through a Crown Conservation Contract that contributes to the quantity measure must come from either new afforestation2 or additional carbon sequestration on that Public Conservation Land.

  • If the activity is an afforestation activity, then it should, at a minimum, facilitate the establishment of forest that enables the Public Conservation Land to meet the definition of ‘forest land’ under the CCRA within the contract period.

  • If the activity results in additional carbon sequestration (but is not an afforestation activity), there must be a high degree of confidence that the sequestration is:

    • demonstrably additional (i.e. above business as usual for that area)
    • likely to result in a higher carbon stock at maturity than if the activity did not occur.

  • For administrative ease and clarity, any new afforestation activity under a Crown Conservation Contract should be on Public Conservation Land that is considered ‘bare’ by the Department of Conservation (DOC). In deciding what is bare land, DOC should consider at least the following factors:

    • the level of pre-existing or naturally occurring sequestration on the land;
    • the potential sequestration levels of the site
    • the definition of ‘forest land’ in the CCRA
    • whether activities on the land require human-induced actions to be considered activities listed in Schedule 4 of the CCRA.

  • Note that DOC’s consideration of bare land prior to granting of a Crown Conservation Contract does not replace the statutory requirements under the CCRA for registration of post-1989 forest land within the NZ ETS, registered post-1989 forest land, and the consideration of eligibility under the CCRA. Land that does not meet the definition of ‘forest land’ in the CCRA will continue to be excluded from the registration.

[1] Canterbury Provincial Buildings Vesting Act 1928, Game Animal Council Act 2013, Harbour Boards Dry Land Endowment Revesting Act 1991, Kapiti Island Public Reserve Act 1897, Lake Wanaka Preservation Act 1973, Marine Mammals Protection Act 1978, Marine Reserves Act 1971, Mount Egmont Vesting Act 1978, National Parks Act 1980, Native Plants Protection Act 1934, Ngāi Tahu (Tūtaepatu Lagoon Vesting) Act 1998, Queen Elizabeth the Second National Trust Act 1977, Queenstown Reserves Vesting and Empowering Act 1971, Reserves Act 1977, Stewart Island Reserves Empowering Act 1976, Sugar Loaf Islands Marine Protected Area Act 1991, Trade in Endangered Species Act 1989, Tutae-Ka-Wetoweto Forest Act 2001, Waitangi Endowment Act 1932–33, Waitangi National Trust Board Act 1932, Waitutu Block Settlement Act 1997, West Coast Wind-blown Timber (Conservation Lands) Act 2014, Wild Animal Control Act 1977, Wildlife Act 1953.

[2] Meaning ‘planting or seeding’.

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