The Permanent Forest Sink Initiative (PFSI)
New Zealand is unique in the world being the first developed country to provide mechanisms that enable private ownership of forest carbon within the Kyoto Protocol framework. There are currently two carbon forest schemes, the Permanent Forest Sink Initiative (PFSI), and post-1989 forestry under the NZ Emissions Trading Scheme. Under each mechanism owners of forests established after 1989 are awarded carbon credits for increases in forest carbon stocks that occur after 01 January 2008.

The NZ ETS forestry mechanism is suited for commercial timber forests however arguably it lacks key environmental attributes of permanence (i.e. the emissions removals are not temporary) and additionality (meaning that the activity would not have happened without carbon revenue) required by most international standards and buyers. This is because many ETS forests are business-as-usual timber plantations and there are no restrictions on clearfell harvesting or deforestation.

The Permanent Forest Sink Initiative is the 'gold standard' in carbon forestry addressing both permanence and additionality. 

Permanent Forest Sink Initiative registered forests are committed to long term sustainable management for the primary purpose of carbon sequestration. The forests must be maintained as continuous cover canopy forests for 99 years, and harvesting is only permitted on the basis of low intensity individual tree or small coupe removals. These restrictions are recorded in a covenant between the Crown and the landowner and registered against the land title, binding successive landowners. The covenant can be terminated after 50 years but termination triggers repayment of all the carbon credits issued to the forest.

The PFSI mechanism is favoured for projects where the principal driver is carbon sequestration to maximize and maintain biomass stocks. It is also favoured for programs with native tree species and for projects where maintenance of permanent forest cover is valued for environmental reasons such as enhancement of biodiversity, soil conservation, water quality improvement, and flood control.

Presentation about the  Permanent Forests Sink Initiative

Summary of the environmental benefits of permanent forests