The Government has announced a new National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry will come into force on 1 May 2018.
An overview of the regulations released with the announcement says the rules governing forestry activities were managed in district and regional council plans.
"While local variation has offered some benefits, it has unnecessarily increased costs and operational complexity for the forestry sector, particularly for forests that cross council boundaries. This various across council plans has also meant that there has been an inconsistent level of environmental management.
"Now, a new nationally consistent set of regulations will create more certainty. The National Environmental Standards for Plantation Forestry permit core forestry activities provided their adverse environmental effects are controlled."
Environment Minister Nick Smith says forestry is New Zealand's third largest primary industry but its efficiency is hampered by the confusing mix of planning rules across New Zealand's 86 councils.
“A major change with these new regulations is the development of three new tools for managing the environmental impacts from forestry, covering the issues of erosion, wilding pines and fish spawning," Dr Smith says.
“The benefit of these tools is that the restrictions on forestry activities are related to the environmental risk rather than which council area a forestry operation is in. This change is particularly important as 80% of forest owners manage forests in multiple council areas."
The National Environmental Standard for Plantation Forestry covers eight core plantation forestry activities: afforestation, pruning and thinning to waste, earthworks, river crossings, forestry quarrying, harvesting, mechanical land preparation and replanting.
Councils may apply stricter rules in special circumstances where local conditions require a more restrictive approach.