Land Information New Zealand says the first consent has been granted to buy land under the new streamlined forestry test, introduced when overseas investment rules changed in October 2018.
Japanese-owned Oji Fibre Solutions (NZ) Ltd received approval in February 2019 to buy Stoneleigh Forest in Te Kuiti from Australian company PF Olsen Tisa Pty Ltd. The forest is 188 hectares of mature pinus radiata.
LINZ says Oji Fibre Solutions plans to harvest the existing crop and replant and maintain a similar replacement crop.
It says the new special forestry test is "the fastest and most straightforward pathway for overseas investors wanting to make conventional forestry investments".
Overseas investors can apply under the new special forestry test if the land is, or will be, used exclusively (or nearly exclusively) for forestry activities.
Under this test, they need to plant a new crop of trees whenever they harvest trees on the land, and they must maintain or implement any existing arrangements on the land, such as public access, biodiversity protection, Forestry Stewardship Council certification, protecting local iwi access or areas of wāhi tapu.